BRASELTON — While complex, Century Center at Braselton’s developers say its lawsuits against the town of Braselton involve two main factors: sidewalks and property boundaries.
Dick Gray, a managing partner with Gray Properties, said he does not want to build a sidewalk along the Center’s 1,500 feet of Ga. 211 road frontage because the town’s limits end at the highway’s right-of-way.
Gray Properties, a developmental group based in Buford, built Century Center.
"All we’re trying to do is ... get the court to make a decision as to whether or not a municipality has the constitutional or statutory authorization to enforce zoning regulations outside its territorial boundary," Gray said.
"Our position is they (the town) don’t have legal authority to make the decisions out there on (Ga.) 211. It’s exclusively the property of the state and the control of the Georgia Department of Transportation."
Century Center, a retail and office development, is located on Ga. 211 near Beaver Dam Road and just south of Interstate 85.
The case stems from a dispute over
Braselton’s zoning rules, which require certain improvements along Ga. 211, including gutter widths, minimum landscape strips, multi-use paths, street lights and trees.
Gray said the developers have complied with everything except for constructing a 10-foot sidewalk and streetlights. "We have a strenuous objection to building a sidewalk that large to begin with," he said. "And it’s right next to the highway, and we think it creates a dangerous situation for people walking on it."
If the company constructed a sidewalk, Gray said it would have to sign a permit with the DOT, which would hold Gray Properties liable for any accidents involving the sidewalk.
"That’s a big issue because there’s nobody that can get insurance for things like that," said Gray.
Two lawsuits have been filed against Braselton, in January 2007 and June 2008, according to Braselton’s attorney, Kelly Hundley of Henderson & Hundley, P.C. in Decatur.
Hundley could not comment on the specifics of the case, but said "the fact of the matter is that the fight was picked by the developer ... and what the developer is attempting to do is nullify a validly enacted ordinance by the mayor and council."
On Jan. 26, Century Center filed a brief with the Georgia Supreme Court, appealing the results of previous rulings made in Jackson County Superior Court in November 2007, August 2008 and October 2008.
In its brief, the Center is asking the court to hear oral arguments concerning the first lawsuit. The case should be placed on the Supreme Court’s April docket with arguments heard sometime during the same month, according to Hundley.
In addition, both parties are still awaiting a decision by Jackson County Superior Court Judge David Motes on whether the second lawsuit can be suspended until the first is resolved.