New court dates have been set in the ongoing dispute about commercial events at a Buckhead mansion, with the operator facing 17 citations and the possibility of a permanent restraining order.
Meanwhile, the city’s proposed “party house” ordinance, which would tighten the law barring such events in residential areas, has won approval from a majority of Neighborhood Planning Units.
Olutosin O. “Tosin” Oduwole, identified by city authorities as the operator of the 4499 Garmon Road mansion, is already under a 30-day restraining order barring commercial events that runs through Nov. 25. On Nov. 14, a Fulton County Superior Court judge will hear the city’s argument to make the restraining order permanent, according to Jim Elgar, an aide to City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit. That would allow the city to shut down any future commercial events.
Elgar said at the Nov. 5 NPU-A meeting that a movie shoot was recently scheduled for the property, but canceled when the city’s Office of Film & Entertainment was notified about the restraining order.
Oduwole is scheduled to appear for trial in Atlanta Municipal Court on Dec. 13, according to court records and city officials. He faces various citations alleging disorderly conduct, violations of zoning codes and the noise ordinance, fire code violations, and interfering with or damaging city water system devices.
At the NPU-A meeting, Elgar urged residents to attend the trial because “we need to have people there to testify to specific party dates” and other information related to the citations.
Sharon Dickson, an assistant city solicitor, told the NPU board that Oduwole faces fines of up to $1,000 per citation if convicted, but is unlikely to face a jail sentence.
“I don’t know if money is really an issue for him,” Dickson said of Oduwole, referring to his possible income from commercial events. “…I don’t know that the judge would give him any jail time for this. I just don’t see that unless there’s something really egregious that comes out at trial.”
Oduwole told the Reporter earlier this year that at least some of the charges were unfounded. He later demanded that the Reporter cease writing anything about him.
Elgar told the NPU that Matzigkeit’s office has talked with neighbors about the possibility of a civil lawsuit against Oduwole. “That’s been something we’ve discussed,” but has not happened, Elgar said.
Matzigkeit and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms have called for the “party house” legislation. They believe large commercial parties are illegal in residential areas under zoning, which prohibits many commercial uses in areas zoned for single-family residential. But lack of legal definitions in the code clearly have been among the issues complicating official response, and one the new legislation seeks to fix.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the new legislation would create a zoning code definition of a “party house.” Party houses would be allowed in residential-zoned areas only with a special permit.
All of the city’s NPU have reviewed the party house legislation. According to Elgar, 19 of the NPUs voted to recommend approval, one voted for approval with conditions, and five voted in opposition.
“I think ‘party house’ is really defined as a Buckhead issue” by some other neighborhoods, Elgar told the NPU-A board. But, he added, such commercial rentals are a problem in other areas as well, such as stadium-related parties around the Westside and Vine City.
Elgar said that officials are working on responses to the NPUs’ feedback before the legislation continues through the process.
Formerly owned by star musician Kenny Rogers, the Garmon Road mansion drew the city’s attention last year for a string of massive parties, which ended late in the year with a $1,000 zoning violation fine imposed upon a woman who claimed to be the property’s new owner. However, Oduwole began advertising the mansion for event rentals again this year and parties resumed this summer, leading to a new series of citations.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of assistant solicitor Sharon Dickson.