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Barbershop case goes to court Thursday

By Michael Davis

When a hairdresser wanted to open a barbershop in the city of Riverdale, he found out it was a little harder than he thought. Now Nathaniel Ryles, Jr. is going to court against the city council.

Ryles and his landlords are due to appear before a Clayton County Superior Court judge Thursday to make their case against the Riverdale City Council. The council denied Ryles' request for a business license earlier this year to open the barbershop in Winderemere Plaza.

"I'm losing money every day with my shop just sitting there," Ryles said Tuesday.

Ryles and his landlords, Southpark Developments Inc. and sister-company Winderemere Holdings, LLC. contend that when the area at 501 Ga. Highway 138 was annexed by the city and rezoned to commercial property in 2000, a barbershop was a permitted use in the property that didn't require a special permit.

But according to court documents, the city council voted to amend the zoning ordinance, effective Sept. 1 of last year, to require barbershops, beauty salons and nail salons to seek approval from city officials in the form of a conditional use permit.

Ryles found out about the change when he applied for a business license and applied for the conditional use permit.

The city council denied the application Jan. 12 but Mayor Phaedra Graham vetoed the action.

"She didn't know why they denied it in the first place," Ryles said.

The council however, overrode the veto Jan. 26.

Ryles filed suit in early February to have permit issued and for damages due to the shop not being open.

Tuesday, Ryles and the development partners dropped the suit against the mayor. Ryles said he and his co-plaintiffs in the case haven't been given a reason for the permit denial.

City leaders met Tuesday to discuss the case in a closed session but wouldn't discuss it with reporters.

Superior Court Judge Albert Collier is set to hear the case Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Clayton County Justice Center.