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Four weeks – Church on Hibernia coming down


Four weeks – Church on Hibernia coming down

The church property at 109 Hibernia Avenue.
The church property at 109 Hibernia Avenue.

The church property at 109 Hibernia Avenue.

A developer who wants to raze a vacant church on Hibernia Avenue will begin the demolition process within four weeks, Decaturish.com has learned.

Decaturish.com received an email that City Planning Director Amanda Thompson sent to residents living around the proposed townhome development. In the email, Thompson said developer Thrive Homes had withdrawn its request for a zoning variance that was going to be on the agenda for the March 10 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. The developer objected to the city’s requirement that the townhomes would need a two-hour, fire rated masonry wall.

The variance request showed that the developer wants to build 20 townhomes on a 1.7 acre lot. In her email, Thompson wrote that Thrive had submitted a new plan on March 6.

“The new plan they have submitted is still townhouses, but I have not reviewed it in detail and will not have a zoning report until next week on it,” Thompson wrote. “As far as the construction timeline – they will demolish the existing building in the next four weeks, they will most likely receive a building permit for the townhouses in the next six weeks and then they will begin construction.”

Thrive Homes has not responded to messages seeking comment.

Thompson sent her email at 10:41 am on Friday, March 7.  Decaturish.com attempted to get a comment from the city on the afternoon of Friday, March 7, regarding the possibility that Thrive had withdrawn its variance request, but was told that an answer wouldn’t be available until Monday, March 10. Decaturish.com contacted Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Neil Dobbs who said the city had not given him any new information about the project.

The church, located at 109 Hibernia has a connection with the city’s African American history. The church property is formerly the site of Christ Covenant Church, but prior to that it was the home of the Antioch African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first black church established in the city of Decatur, according to the church’s website.  Antioch AME was established in Decatur in 1868 and moved to Hibernia, then called Atlanta Avenue, in 1965. The church relocated to Stone Mountain in 1995.

Jared Feuer, a resident who lives near the proposed development, said he’s hoping that the city will not issue permits until neighbors are able to weigh in.

“I am surprised the developer has not reached out to our community – nor has the city insisted that it do so – especially considering the scope of the proposal,” he said. “The planned development is in the center of single family homes, and would, on two small acres, pack in 20, 40 foot high with rooftop terrace units, two roads up against backyards, (and) large underground retention systems I am hoping the city will not provide permitting until there has been sufficient dialogue by all parties. I also would note that there has been a trend toward development at all costs, and while it’s crucial that the city we love grow and offer diverse housing stock, it has to do so in a collaborative manner. All Decatur residents should be following this story.”