Plans for children’s home in e. Cobb greeted by opposition from neighbors
by Rachel Gray
April 03, 2014 04:00 AM | 7621 views | 10 10 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rachel Naddor, executive director of Deserving Peace International Inc., and her husband, Ahmed El Makki, adjust the County Land Use Permit Notice sign  at their home in Marietta. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Rachel Naddor, executive director of Deserving Peace International Inc., and her husband, Ahmed El Makki, adjust the County Land Use Permit Notice sign at their home in Marietta.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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MARIETTA — An east Cobb woman eager to start a group home for neglected children was shocked Tuesday by opposition from neighbors and the unanimous recommendation for denial by the Planning Commission.

Rachel Naddor, 48, appeared before the Planning Commission on Tuesday morning to request a special land use permit to open an orphanage in a home she purchased in 1997 on Clearwater Drive, between Powers Ferry Road and Lower Roswell Road.

Naddor, who was raised in Baltimore, said she was neglected as an infant and child. Still, the group home endeavor really took hold after Naddor met her Saudi Arabian husband, Ahmed, 35, an IT engineer in computer repair.

“It is all God’s will,” Naddor said.

The couple, members of the Islamic faith, married in November 2012 and do not have any children.

Rachel Naddor gave a 10-minute presentation about her passion to help at-risk or abused children.

“This is really a calling, a mission,” Naddor said as she choked back tears and paused a few times. “It has taken a lot to get here.”

In November, Naddor formed a nonprofit organization, Deserving Peace International, which is affiliated with Unity North Atlanta Church and the Islamic Circle of North America’s Outreach Division.

“The children will learn about faith and they’ll learn how to find peace,” Naddor said. “They’ll be guided and empowered” through prayer, meditation and contemplation.

At this point, Naddor is navigating government approvals and is not sure how children would be placed in her home.

The goal is to take in international refugees, but with money constraints, Naddor said the children could be from Georgia.

The children will attend public school initially at Powers Ferry Elementary, with home schooling arranged if needed down the road, Naddor said.

A home by any other name

Naddor told the Planning Commission the home will not have any signage outside to attract attention to the house.

In fact, the goal is to place the children in the family-friendly neighborhood to allow the misplaced kids to feel normal.

“This is just a home with kids in it,” Naddor said.

Naddor’s home has four bedrooms. Upstairs are a master bedroom, an office and meditation room.

There are also two full bathrooms upstairs, one full bathroom downstairs and a “beautifully finished” basement Naddor said.

The plan would be to house two children per room, for a total of six kids as well as Naddor and her husband.

That is the maximum amount of children allowed in the home, based on the Office of Residential Child Care with the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Each child will have his or her own bed and place to store belongings, with separate boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, Naddor said.

Naddor said Cobb Fire has approved of the plans and building permits have been granted. The Naddors are only waiting on zoning approval.

If the group home is started, Naddor said the children will be provided with medical care and 24-hour supervision, with three workers rotating shifts and a few volunteers.

The Naddors personal vehicles will be stored in the enclosed carport, with only two cars at any one time parked in the driveway by staff and no street parking, Naddor promised.

A negative recommendation

Three residents from the Freywood Estates neighborhood spoke against the proposed group home Tuesday.

Louie George, who lives off Robin Lane, said the area is an established single-family residential neighborhood.

“How can eight people live in a 1,500-square-foot house?” George asked, pointing to the small-sized bedrooms of the homes built in the 1950s.

George also expressed concern about Naddor expanding the group home operation into the back of her secluded and wooded property in the future.

“I think this is an effort to get the foot in the door,” George said.

Denise Merritt, who lives off Freydale Road, said most of the people living in the quiet community are older residents and she hopes to keep it that way.

“I think the neighborhood is the best neighborhood in Cobb,” Merritt said.

The Planning Commission unanimously denied the special land-use permit, 4-0, with Planning Commissioner Christi Trombetti absent.

Despite the eye contact from the members on the board, Naddor said she did not feel her case was heard.

“They denied it before they even listened,” Naddor said. “Maybe my vision is so big it blows people away and they can’t handle it.”

Naddor also said she felt misled in the process, especially by Chairman Mike Terry, who represents her area.

“(Terry) led me to believe he was on my side,” Naddor said.

Terry said he had numerous discussions with Naddor “at length” and came out for a tour of the home.

During the hearing, Terry said he had been inundated with emails from people against the permit being granted, with at least a dozen in the last few days.

It is hard to approve a special land use permit “if there is wide-spread opposition” by the neighbors, Terry said.

The only group home for children approved in Cobb is The Calvary Children’s Home off Lost Mountain Road, which sits on 13 acres and is home to 23 children in multiple buildings.

“That is not at all what we are talking about here,” Terry said. “There is just no precedent for this.”

In the end, Terry suggested the Naddors check into the state’s foster-care program or consider international adoption to bring a couple children into the home.

“Their hearts are in the right place,” Terry said.

Comments
(10)
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ProJour
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April 04, 2014
Ah yes, the good, God-fearing, patriotic folk of Cobb County once again following the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You'll have some 'splainin' to do one day.
anonymous
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April 03, 2014
What if this couple already tried the foster care and adoption routes and failed to meet the minimum requirements for those processes?

There are plenty of children in Georgia who could use a good foster home.

Believers ??
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April 03, 2014
Unbelievable how many of those emails and letters sent to Mr. Terry were from residents who attend Johnson Ferry Baptist Church - are they Sunday only believers ?
Claire Miller
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April 03, 2014
This sounds like a foster home. No special permit is required to be a foster home. Why wouldn't they just do that to start?
Just Wait
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April 03, 2014
At first I was thinking this was just your typical east Cobb snobbery, but reading the article you almost have to think this lady is a bit off center.
East Cobb
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April 03, 2014
Typical East Cobb snobbery?
Kim_neighbor
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April 03, 2014
The home I first owned with my husband was a 1200 square foot, 3 bedroom/1 bathroom home in Michigan. We found out that the original owners raised 7 children in that house, a typical situation in the 1950's and a very typical home. I'm saddened to hear that a neighborhood would find 6 children in a 4 bedroom/1500 square foot home to be too many and a nuisance to their quiet neighborhood. I don't believe for a minute that anyone would have really noticed had it not been for a zoning notice and publicity. I commend these childless parents for taking on this challenge to bless others. I pray that their neighbors ponder their own purpose in the world, and it not be one of judgement.
Kevin Foley
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April 03, 2014
I'm very sure if Ms. Naddor and her husband were evangelical Christians, their proposed home would be no problem at all in Freywood Estates.

Here was the kiss of death: Muslim.

So much for Christian charity.
neighboroffoley
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April 07, 2014
Hey, K-Fo...since you're feeling so neighborly, why don't YOU let them live in your house? Or next door? Or kitty corner from your house? You can be waiting with open arms and a cup of sugar and be the good guy. Step up to the plate, Big Boy!
Southern Patriot
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April 03, 2014
“The children will learn about faith and they’ll learn how to find peace,” Naddor said. “They’ll be guided and empowered” through prayer, meditation and contemplation. The neighbors were wise to reject this plan. Her statement is very telling and frightening. This is another attempt by Muslims to convert and indoctrinate.
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