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Suwanee council urges caution on eminent domain issue

Suwanee's City Council wants to make sure legislators don't overreact on some of the most politically charged issues of the past several months.

Last week, the council passed resolutions to urge restraint on eminent domain and inverse condemnation.

While people have boiled over the issues since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Kelo vs. New London decision, Mayor Nick Masino said a hasty reaction could have long-term effects for local cities and counties.

"I think it's silly for us to debate something that happened in New England," he said, referring to the Connecticut case. "My concern is if we have blighted areas we do need a tool to try to fix it."

Masino said the state's eminent domain laws seem to protect both property rights and the needs of governments. If politicians abuse that balance, he said, elections can take care of the issue.

While Masino said members of the General Assembly should be cautious in dealing with the eminent domain issue next month, he said the talks about inverse condemnation laws are downright

dangerous.

The Senate is considering a law to force governments to compensate property owners if environmental and other regulations cause the land to become less valuable.

Senate Bill 30, Masino said, could inadvertently keep cities from imposing zoning regulations on a property or make developers build roads or

sidewalks as part of a

development.

He said a similar law in Oregon caused governments to stop enforcing regulations because they couldn't afford to pay the compensation.

Last month, during a committee hearing, lawmakers said the bill wasn't aimed at zoning laws.

The council unanimously agreed with the resolutions, and city Planning Director Marty Allen has sent a position paper to Gwinnett's representatives in the General Assembly to explain the city's viewpoint.

Van Gundy elected as chair

The first vote ended in a tie, but after a second tally was taken, BJ Van Gundy became the new GOP chairman of the 7th Congressional District.

Van Gundy, who recently resigned his position as director of the Southwest Gwinnett Village Community Improvement Association, will take over the position from Maria Strollo, who had to vacate the post when legislators drew new district lines that placed her in a different district.

The 7th Congressional District post is now held by U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth.

Van Gundy, who co-chaired Linder's re-election campaign in 2002, said he isn't worried about the popular politician retaining his post in '06.

"We will work together to get the vote out for Sonny and the rest of the GOP ticket," Van Gundy said, referring to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is facing a re-election campaign after becoming Georgia's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

Other officers chosen for the district are:

•1st Vice Chair: Amy

Borden

•Secretary: Judy Bailey

•Treasurer: Keith Bastin

•Assistant Secretary: Rose Magoon

•Assistant Treasurer: Erik Spohn

•Member-at-Large, Post 1: Phyllys Ransom

•Member-At-Large, Post 2: Greg Howard

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.