Man sues Sandy Springs to build home on cemetery

Updated:

A man is fighting Sandy Springs over a 1-acre piece of land off Heards Drive that marks the burial place for one of the city’s founding families.

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - A man is suing Sandy Springs for the right to build a house on a historic cemetery.

The fight is over a 1-acre piece of land off Heards Drive that marks the burial place for one of the city’s founding families.

In 1900, Judge John Heard deeded the land to his descendants so they could be buried in the family cemetery. About 100 years later, Fulton County mistakenly auctioned off the land claiming it was delinquent on taxes, even though cemeteries are tax-exempt.

A neighbor paid the taxes to save the land from an out-of-state developer. Now, the neighbor's son-in-law, Chris Mills, wants to build his family home here.

The city won't give Mills a permit to build, so he sued, arguing the land is already zoned for residential use.

Neighbors are siding with the city.

"I think it's a special, special historic spot that we really should save.  If you forget your history, it's a bad thing," neighbor Judie Padgett told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.

The descendants of the Heard family are considering legal action.

“Mr. Mills may be building his house on top of graves that haven't been identified yet," said Wright Mitchell, who represents some of the Heard family descendants.

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