MARIETTA — Tuesday, the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved rezoning a small property in Smyrna that will be used for psychic readings and palmistry.
Located on the eastern side of Atlanta Road, south of Paces Ferry Road, the existing metal structure on the property was once an auto repair business with multiple garage doors.
In 2010, Michael McMillen and his son, Justin, purchased the parcel, which is just under a quarter of an acre, to remodel the building into a professional office, with a new brick or stucco exterior, according to their attorney, James Balli.
Balli, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said the office would be used for “religious-based counseling” and all activity will be contained within the building. He said the business would be “very low impact” with hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday by appointment only, and no overnight parking.
Balli said there would not be any neon lighting, and the sign at the entrance would be at ground level and no taller than 5 feet.
There is only one nearby commercial property, which is a hair salon next door with a tall electronic sign.
The remaining area consists of residential homes, including the Paces Park subdivision behind the McMillen property.
Twenty-seven residents attended Tuesday’s meeting to object to the proposed business. Four people addressed the board and said a business that provides psychic readings is out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.
Chuck Hamilton, who has lived at the adjacent property at 3736 Paces Park Circle for 11 years, said he was speaking in opposition to the commissioners for the fourth time on this zoning request.
“The proposed use does not benefit our community,” Hamilton said.
Scott Hason, president of the 2000 Paces Ferry Home Owners Association, which includes 68 homes built between 1997 and 1999, said the neighbors are not against the space being zoned commercial.
“It is the usage that we are strongly opposed to,” Hason said.
In 2010, the family asked that the property be zoned to allow them to live and work on the site. At the time, the Board of Commissioners changed the zoning to strictly residential. In April, the Planning Commission recommended the zoning be changed to a one-story office that prohibits a psychic reading practice.
The McMillen family already operates psychic reading businesses in Cobb County at the following locations: Psychic Readings by Gina at 2672 Austell Road, Atlanta’s Psychic Ashley at 3010 Roswell Road, Psychic Readings by Jennifer at 3497 Canton Road, and Psychic Answers by Jennifer at 2998 Powder Springs Road.
Balli said comments by area residents at prior meetings have been disrespectful to his clients, who are just trying to practice their craft.
The McMillens are part of the ethnic group known as Romani, who are often referred to as Gypsies.
Commissioner Bob Ott said he only looks at the merits of each zoning case.
“I am blind to the applicant,” Ott said.
Chairman Tim Lee cautioned the people attending the meeting not to pass judgment or dictate what is or is not acceptable outside of zoning criteria.
Over the past 10 years the area of east Cobb “has boomed, it has blossomed,” Lee said. He said the growth has allowed Cobb County to become diverse and that the Constitution protects religious freedom.
“These people have been part of the community for a long, long time, throughout the county,” with no problems or complaints, Lee said.