Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church has a contract to purchase the 32-acre Shirley Blumenthal Park owned by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, and hopes to operate a high school on the property. The park is at 2509 Post Oak Tritt Road near Holly Springs Road, about 6 miles north of Mt. Bethel’s campus, which plays host to students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
A special land-use permit must be issued by Cobb County for the church to operate the school. The school is not seeking to change the property’s zoning designation but will go before the Cobb County Planning Commission at 9 a.m. Nov. 5 to request the permit.
After the planning commission makes its recommendation, the Cobb Board of Commissioners will hear the case and make a final decision at 9 a.m. on Nov. 19.
If the permit is approved, students could be in the school by August of next year, said Ellen Smith, attorney with Cumberland-based Holt Ney Zatcoff & Wasserman LLP, who is representing the church.
Smith said between 40 and 45 students are expected the first year.
The church believes there is a large need for faith-based education in Cobb, Smith said, but the high school would be open to students who are not members of the church.
Smith says the church has received mostly positive feedback from the community and has heard some concerns about traffic.
“We have engaged a traffic engineering firm to review the traffic impact and they confirmed that even if we maxed enrollment at 625, a number that we don’t expect to achieve in many years if at all, the impact would not degrade the level of service on Post Oak Tritt Road,” Smith said.
Jim Callis, head of school, and Randy Mickler, senior pastor, declined to comment on the project.
The property has been owned by the Jewish center since 1986. Put up for sale two years ago, the center discontinued its use of the 21,000-square foot classroom building but has continued to use its 14,000-square foot gymnasium and playing fields.
In an application filed with the county, the church says a high school would “by no means be any significant adverse impact on the neighborhood” and would be “virtually unnoticed.” Mt. Bethel said in its application using the property as a school would have an impact similar to the community center.
JoAnn Birrell, who represents the area on the Board of Commissioners, would not speak specifically about her opinions on the request because it has not yet gone to a vote.
At this point, “It’s up to the public to give us feedback and input from their standpoint,” Birrell said.