Marietta files countersuit against landowner
By BRENDEN SAGER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 02/17/06
The city of Marietta filed a counter claim Friday against one if its own officials who first sued over a property dispute.
Bill Hagemann, a Marietta Housing Authority board member, sued the city in October over rezoning for an 18-acre redevelopment at the Wynhaven apartment complex near to the Marietta Conference Center on Powder Springs Street.
Hagemann owns several acres of land next to the proposed project, which Hagemann claims would be adversely affected by the Wynhaven development, his lawsuit said. Hagemann’s suit challenges a rezoning in September that allows for dense residential construction at the Wynhaven apartments.
Original plans from developer Pacific Group called for 375 condominiums with a market value of $80 million. Plans have been scaled back to attached single-family townhomes, city officials said, but Hagemann’s lawsuit has put the entire development on hold.
“The existence of the lawsuit is a temporary impediment to construction and development of the project,” said Pacific Group Attorney Garvis Sams. “We continue to hope for a negotiated settlement.”
The city’s counter suit, filed Friday, makes several claims including that Hagemann’s lawsuit is costing city taxpayers additional money. Wynhaven is located within the city’s tax allocation district, an area where certain developments can qualify for city bond funds to incentivize urban renewal.
The city’s suit says: “Hagemann’s lawsuit will or may be an impediment to the … bond financing,” potentially raising the city’s cost of capital. The counter suit further claims that the blighted Wynhaven property, and the additional police services its residents demand, cost taxpayers an additional $900,000 annually in city services.
Peter Olson, Hagemann’s lawyer, said the city’s claims are meritless.
“By taking this action we lose city tax dollars ? I never heard of such a claim,” Olson said. “I’ve never heard of case where you’d sue someone for tax revenue lost. It’s all some attempt to intimidate Bill into not exercising his rights as a property owner.”