Ebenezer United Methodist Church was finally granted a special use permit for a full-time day care after a succesful appeal in Rockdale County Superior Court that reversed the decision of the Board of Commissioners last month to turn down the application
The commissioners were willing to reverse their April vote, according to a released statement from the county Friday. However, the only legal way in which to address the issue once the vote was taken was through appeal, with the County then consenting to the order.
Chief Superior Court Judge David B. Irwin issued the order, which was signed on May 15 by the judge, the church's legal counsel and Rockdale County's legal counsel. Chief Judge Irwin ordered the County to issue the permit within three business days of the order and pay $6,000 of the church's attorney fees and all filing fees associated with the action.
Ebenezer UMC administrator Paige Rogers said, regarding the decision, "We are ecstatic and ready to move forward with our state licensing so that we can meet the needs of our surrounding community. We are relieved to have this done so that we can put our focus where it needs to be."
Ebenezer UMC had filed the appeal on May 5 citing that the reasons given for the decision were not based on the required criteria for a decision on a special use permit. At the May 8 vote, Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt voted against the permit, describing considerations of fairness to private day care owners in the community. Commissioner JaNice Van Ness abstained.
The Board of Commissioners approved a special use permit for a day care at the Seventh Day Adventist church on Tuesday, a month after Ebenezer's was turned down.
The vote passed 2-0, with Commissioner JaNice Van Ness abstaining and Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt voting in favor of the day care at 3001 Old Salem Road, with the staff-recommended stipulation that a row of trees be planted between the church property and Westchester Lakes subdivision.
Nesbitt said, afterwards, "This pastor and this church and those citizens who came out and voiced their concerns agreed to work together and find a common ground solutions. Any time people can come together and have their own solution versus having the local government make a decision on their behalf, it's much better. They came to an agreement. It worked out. That's why I supported it."
In previous work sessions, Commissioner Nesbitt indicated he was willing to revisit the decision about Ebenezer UMC day care special permit application.