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Lawrenceville denies auto lot license

LAWRENCEVILLE – After hearing an hour of testimony here Monday night, the Lawrenceville City Council unanimously agreed that Colonial Buick GMC’s main automobile sales operation has relocated to Loganville, thus upholding its own recent denial of a business license request by the dealership at its old location at 850 Collins Hill Road in Lawrenceville.

“The ordinance is clear,” said Councilman Tony Powell who made the motion to deny. “The franchise has moved to Loganville…GMC is very precise on this.”

Mayor Judy Johnson and Councilman Keith Rausch said they both visited the Collins Hill site, and saw a sign that read, “We’ve Moved.”

Matt Reeves, attorney for Colonial, said the dealership has relocated to Loganville, but that the company has not discontinued automobile sales in Lawrenceville, and continues customer sales there. There is pending litigation filed by GMC on continuing automobile repairs at this location.

Reeves added that Monday night’s action by the Council will prompt an expansion of the suit to the Georgia Superior Court.

“There would have been a much easier way for the city to resolve this,” he said. Normally, this type of case could be heard in about six months.

Lisa Boswell, Colonial officer manager, testified Monday night that the original business license was for an automobile dealership, and that they never intended to stop auto sales in Lawrenceville.

Colonial has been in business for 28 years and is owned by Tom Hollis. The move to Highway 78 in Loganville came as a result of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s partial condemnation of the property near Interstate-85 in Lawrenceville.

City Planning and Zoning Director Josh Ferguson testified he visited the Lawrenceville site in person two or three times, talked to employees there, and that based on his visits, his staff’s research on the Internet, and an open records request with the business license section in Loganville, that Colonial’s sales had moved to Loganville, and had been discontinued in Lawrenceville.

Chandler and Britt’s Gregory Jay, planning staff council, said the denial wasn’t a referendum on whether Colonial was a good business entity or not.

“The planning director had a duty to uphold the ordinance,” Jay said. “There is only one auto dealership … their new sales are occurring in Loganville.”

Councilman Bob Clark said he’s seen no new car advertising for the Lawrenceville location, and that there is no prominent display sign there. Reeves countered that there are prominent GMC signs at both locations.

Reeves said the Lawrenceville location currently has five employees, and both auto sales and auto repairs are in operation there.

In other business, the following upcoming events were announced:

• The Chalk Walk, July 19, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, where guests are invited to draw on the sidewalks and streets.

• Moonlight and Music Concert, July 25, featuring the Electric Avenues, an ‘80s group.

• A public meeting concerning outdoor storage, City Hall, July 12, 9 a.m.