A sign posted on the Butler Building in Dahlonega, Ga.

A sign posted on the Butler Building in Dahlonega, Ga. / Fox 5 Atlanta

A sign claiming that the Butler Building in Dahlonega, Georgia is a “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall” has the community in an uproar. Klan and Confederate flags were also placed on the building. Hundreds gathered on Feb. 16 to protest the sign that mysteriously appeared on the building owned by local businesswoman Roberta Green-Garrett.

“The sentiments expressed are clearly not consistent with our City’s values or our traditions, nor are they accurate with regard to our history or the known history of the building,” the City of Dahlonega said in a statement.

The sign violated a local ordinance by not having a permit and was taken down shortly after it was posted. The flags were taken down by an unknown citizen. However, Green-Garrett could repost the sign if she filed an application for it. The city is unable to regulate the content of a sign. A sign that fits the regulations that are currently in place will be approved.

Green-Garrett owns a local antique mall, a Holiday Inn Express and many other rental properties in Dahlonega. A student group at the University of North Georgia was outraged when the sign was posted and is aiming to organize a boycott of all of the businesses owned by Green-Garrett.

“She’s not looking out for anyone but herself,” University of North Georgia student Natalie Purser said in a public press conference.

Community members speculate that the sign was posted because Green-Garret’s plans to demolish the Butler Building and replace it with a hotel have not been approved by the city. Green-Garrett’s requested six variances from city ordinances to prepare the plans for the replacement building. Some of those ordinances were approved and some were denied.

The plans for the hotel include a lobby, two levels of guest rooms and two levels of deck parking. These plans exceed the city’s height limits for the district and a Conditional Use permit has to be acquired to execute them.  

“Dahlonega's reputation and economic health are our highest priorities and we are hopeful that this and any future issue between local government and individual business owners can be worked out in a manner more befitting of our community,” the City of Dahlonega said.