Battle retail
Duluth asks for dismissal of Wal-Mart construction lawsuit

LAWRENCEVILLE - The city of Duluth has asked for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a landowner who wants to build a Wal-Mart on his property.

Jack Bandy, who owns about 31 acres at the corner of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Chattahoochee Drive, filed the lawsuit in October to halt the city from enforcing a six-month moratorium on big-box construction.

On Monday, city attorney Lee Thompson filed a response in Gwinnett's Superior Court, saying Georgia's laws do not authorize the courts to take such action.

Bandy, who is represented by former governor Roy Barnes, claimed the city violated the state's open meetings laws by failing to put the moratorium on the City Council agenda. In his response, Thompson said the matter was brought up by a councilman during a part of the meeting labeled on the agenda as "Matters from Council/Department Heads/City Attorney."

No one from the Barnes Law Group returned a phone call seeking comment after the answer was filed.

Last week, Bandy filed a second lawsuit against the city and the Zoning Board of Appeals after members of that board sided with residents who requested that Wal-Mart be required to go before the board to request variances before building a 176,000-square-foot supercenter on the land. Last Wednesday, board members also decided that Duluth's planning department was correct to reject a building application after the big-box moratorium prohibited construction on all buildings larger than 75,000 square feet.

The moratorium is set to expire at the end of January.

Controversy surrounding the proposed Wal-Mart has been heated since this summer, when residents formed a group intending to keep the retail giant out of their area. Residents have said the store is not in concert with Duluth's small-town feel.