Monday, September 17, 2012
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
SUWANEE -- A four-year-old dispute between the city of Suwanee and local landowners is not over yet. This time it's going to the state's highest court.
Suwanee will challenge a $1.8 million settlement ordered by a judge earlier this year that involved a land deal at Settles Bridge and Moore roads.
Jane Hansen, public information officer with the Georgia Supreme Court, said on Monday that the appeal will be heard on Oct. 1. It is the fourth case on the schedule that begins at 10 a.m., Hansen said. Each party is allotted 20 minutes to present their case, Hansen said.
A Superior Court judge in January upheld a jury's recommendation from August of last year that concluded that city officials enacted a moratorium in 2008 specifically to stop landowners of Settles Bridge Farm LLC from selling 36.5 acres of undeveloped land to Notre Dame Academy. The transaction was estimated at $8 million.
According to a court document, city manager Marty Allen sent an email on Feb. 27, 2008, to the mayor and city council regarding the property and a private school's imminent purchase of it.
The document said the "email specifically stated that Suwanee could 'head this off' and in order to do so the city manager suggested we amend our zoning ordinance to require a special-use permit."
The city previously settled a separate lawsuit in August 2011 with Notre Dame Academy for $257,000 that reimbursed the school for out-of-pocket expenses. Another suit that involved Settles Bridge businessmen and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Vice President Nick Masino was dismissed in December.
In that case, the plaintiffs claimed Masino and chamber officials sabotaged the deal because the surrounding community would be outraged.
A Superior Court Judge ruled that Masino addressed the matter of "public concern" and not "disseminating confidential information" during a phone conversation with Allen about the private school proposal.