The Atlanta Board of Zoning Adjustment voted against a variance request by the owner of a problem bar in Kirkwood, which would have allowed him to keep reflective glass and tinting on his storefront windows.
The ruling against David Johnson, owner of the Kirkwood Bar & Grill at 1963 Hosea Williams Drive SE, comes after several months of Kirkwood residents seeking to that he comply with existing regulations.
At issue: Johnson, who took over the former after it closed earlier this year, installed mirrored glass.
The problem is that Kirkwood’s designation, as an NC-3 district and city zoning regulations don't permit that.
What's more, the rules of the Kirkwood Station Homeowners Association, by which the restaurant is governed, also prohibit it.
The chief arguments are that mirrored glass makes it difficult to see what's going on inside, makes it hard for people to know when the business is open or closed and that restaurant has been a magnet for criminal activity.
Adding to residents' ire is what they say have been deliberate attempts and stalling tactics on Johnson's part to continue operations even though the mirrored glass is a clear violation of neighborhood regulations.
He requested a hearing before the Neighborhood Planning Unit-O in September but failed to show up for the discussion scheduled in October. The NPU voted against recommending he be allowed to keep the windows 22-0.
He also didn't show up to answer questions from the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization's zoning committee and full membership meetings in September.
Even the Kirkwood Business Owner's Association, which represents 62 proprietors with operations in the neighborhood, sent the city zoning board a letter — as did the Kirkwood Neighbors’' Organization — asking it to deny Johnson's variance request.
Despite the neighborhood's overwhelming opposition, Johnson appealed to the city zoning board, which took up the issue on Thursday.
But he didn't attend and the board denied the variance request.
"We're satisfied with the outcome," said David Kuechenmeister, a Kirkwood Station Homeowners Association board member. "He broke the law."
It's not clear what Johnson will do, if anything.
He has 30 days to appeal the zoning board's decision by appealing to the Fulton County Superior Court. But he has other issues: notably battling Kirkwood residents over his liquor license.
The restaurant has been closed in the interim and telephone calls seeking comment have gone unanswered.
In the past, Johnson has said on Twitter that the opposition to his restaurant stems from racial animosity because he is a black restaurateur in a gentrifying community.
Late Friday, he told WSB-TV somebody spray-painted his Gwinnett County home with a racial slur and a warning to leave Kirkwood.