The Sandy Springs Board of Appeals on April 10 upheld a city staff decision that the Hub on Barfield Road is violating zoning by renting housing to Art Institute of Atlanta students rather than functioning as an extended-stay hotel that the Barfield Road property is zoned for.

“In my mind this is functioning as a dormitory, not as a hotel,” said board chairwoman Ruth Coan.

In October 2012 the city’s code enforcement officer issued a citation to the Hub for violating a zoning condition, no business license and no banner permit.

When Hub representatives later requested that Community Development Department Director Angela Parker issue a “Letter of Determination” so that they could understand and correct any problems, she stated in December 2013 that the property was acting as an apartment, had not paid required hotel/motel tax at that time, and was not open to the public to rent rooms.

However, Hub representatives maintain that the property rents available rooms to the public, has a website that promotes it as a hotel, and has a “No Vacancy/Vacancy” sign with a posted reservations phone number. In 2013 the Hub obtained a business license for hotel use and has since paid some of the taxes.

Under the extended stay zoning, the hotel cannot rent out rooms for more than 30 days, but the Hub’s attorney William Galloway told the board that the students’ average stay is four to six months.

Nearby Autumn Chace residents have longed complained that activity at the complex has been a nuisance. Before 2012, much of the Art Institute’s housing was at an apartment complex on Abernathy Road that has since cut ties to the school. According to police reports obtained from an Autumn Chace resident, there were 12 reports of criminal activity from April 1, 2011, to Oct. 1, 2012, at the property before it became the Hub. After Oct. 1, 2012, and through 2014, there were 76 reports of criminal activity.

Coan added that with the number of crimes occurring, if this were a “true hotel” it would be kicking out its guests.

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