Atlanta Developer Sues Franklin County for Denying Rezoning Application
MJ Kneiser (WNEG Sister station WLHR)
An Atlanta developer and a property owner are suing Franklin County and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners collectively and individually for their decision to deny them a rezoning request.
Corridor Development of Lawrenceville wanted to build 399 townhome units and a strip mall on 47 acres at the intersection of Highways 51 and 59.
In February, they applied to have the property rezoned from Ag Intensive to Residential Multi-family.
They also had planned to put in a strip mall, storage units, and a convenience store on an adjoining three acres.
During their April 6 Commission meeting, Planning & Zoning Director Scott DeLozier recommended approval, but the Planning Commission recommended denial after hearing from dozens of citizens living near the acreage.
“The applicants are seeking rezoning combined with multiple variance requests for a 399-unit townhome development,” he told the Board. “The variance that was requested was an increase in density from 8 units to 8.4 units. That recommendation is to deny that variance. There was a request to increase the number of units per building from four units that we allow to six units.”
Corridor Development also requested a number of variances concerning setbacks, but the Planning Commission recommended denial of all of them, even though Corridor offered to pay the $2,000 impact fee.
“The staff recommends denying that variance as well. The Planning Commission did hear these at their regular meeting and their recommendation is to deny all of them,” DeLozier said.
DeLozier added that the Planning Commission would approve development on that tract of land if the developer followed the rules and recommendations set forth by the County in the new Unified Development Code his office has been working on for the past year.
During the public hearing portion of that meeting, numerous Sandy Cross citizens spoke out against the developer’s plans.
Commissioners voted to act on the recommendation of the Planning Commission and denied all of Corridor’s rezoning and variance requests.
In their 16-page lawsuit filed May 4, the Company calls the Franklin County Commission’s decision “arbitrary and capricious” and a “wielding of Franklin County’s zoning ordinance to prevent the development of a residential and commercial development.”
They also claimed Corridor Development was not given any legally justifiable reason by the Board of Commissioners for denying their application.
Attorneys for Corridor Development also asserted that Franklin County “shirked on its constitutional obligation to afford due process and deprived the Applicant of the right to seek the highest and best use of the property. And “retroactively upended stated and published land-use policies and prevented economic development.”
Later in the suit, attorneys for Corridor cited Franklin County’s Comprehensive Plan of 2019, which states as one of its goals to promote economic development and that the property in question is in what the Comprehensive Plan called the Gateway Corridor for economic growth and development.
“In no indefinite terms, the Comprehensive Plan declares “[t]he basic premise for Franklin County’s long-term land-use planning is to consider the county open for development[.]” Indeed, the County has experienced considerable recent growth~~with much of that growth concentrating along the 1-85 corridor,” the suit states.
The suit also cited the public hearings in which there was what they called loud opposition to their plan without giving the representatives of Corridor a chance to fully respond and calls the County Commission’s decision to deny the rezoning of the property for development unconstitutional under the Georgia Constitution.
Corridor Development is asking for undisclosed monetary compensation, and a ruling to stop Franklin County and the Board of Commissioners from further enforcement of these zoning prohibitions outlined in the suit and court costs.
Bubba Samuels, attorney for Franklin County, tells WNEG sister station- WLHR News his office is evaluating the claims listed in the suit and evaluating the County’s options but they have no further comment at this time.