Mayor Steve Tumlin said he was happy to hear of the court’s ruling and anticipates going after almost $100,000 in legal fees from the lawsuit brought by Goldstein’s Marietta Properties LLC.
In April 2011, Goldstein’s company filed the lawsuit, saying that he should be able to build a five-story building at the 77 North Park Square location he bought in 2001.
Since then, the case was thrown out by a local Superior Court Judge, ruled on twice by the Georgia Court of Appeals and now denied unanimously by the Georgia Supreme Court.
“It is good news to the city … both as to the result and that the process is confirmed,” Tumlin said.
Councilman Anthony Coleman said he too was happy the “city prevailed” and anticipated it from the prior rulings.
Goldstein’s attorney argued that a new downtown height ordinance should not prevent him from erecting a new building, about 66 feet in height on North Park Square, because he had a certificate of approval from the city’s Historic Board of Review when the rule was adopted.
There was no explanation regarding the ruling by the Supreme Court, just simply that the petition by the councilman’s property company was denied.
Goldstein referred all questions and comments to his attorneys at Hallman & Wingate in Marietta, but calls were not returned before press time Monday.
Tumlin said the city will also be going after attorney fees as a result of this two-year suit, and Coleman said he agreed they should be compensated for what the attorney has put into the case.
“We created a litigation committee because of a councilman filing a lawsuit,” he said. “What came out of that is that we’d go after attorney fees like we did with (Waleed “Lee”) Jaraysi. It wouldn’t be fair to do it against Jaraysi and not Goldstein.”
Jaraysi has been locked in litigation with the city since 2007 over the building of a wedding hall off South Marietta Parkway. In November, Jaraysi was ordered to pay $37,500 in legal fees to the city and his attorney Richard Capriola to pay $10,000.
Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton said the most recent estimates his office received from the city’s legal staff for the Goldstein lawsuit is $96,000.
Tumlin also spoke to a previous statement about asking Goldstein to step down because he had brought a lawsuit against the city.
“It caused some undo tension … he named the council and the mayor as defendants,” Tumlin said. “It’s not a comfortable situation.”
The mayor wouldn’t say if that was something he still felt should happen but reiterated that it made for some awkward council meetings.
“It’s hard enough for eight people with their ideas and concepts of Marietta without throwing in a lawsuit,” he said. “Originally I thought, you’re either with us or you’re not.”
And if Tumlin could essentially decide what would become of the former Cuthbertson building, he’d just request that it stay within the height recommendations as outlined by the ordinance with a façade that’s historical in nature.
“I personally liked the old Cuthbertson building, but it stayed empty for about seven or eight years,” he said. “I wish the renovation has been addressed 10 or 12 years ago to save that building.”
Case goes to court
Goldstein’s Marietta Properties LLC sued the city in April 2011, saying that he should be able to build a five-story building at the North Park Square location. He never applied for a building permit for the spot.
Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger threw out the case in June 2011, but the councilman’s attorney’s then filed an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals.
The state appeals court sided with Kreeger in an August 2011 ruling and again in a December 2011 reconsideration.
This past December, Goldstein’s attorneys filed a petition with the Georgia Supreme Court asking for another decision on the ruling, and on Monday it was unanimously denied.
The 1917-era building, named after the late Dr. Paul Cuthbertson, who was an optometrist, was bought by Goldstein’s company in 2001 for about $575,000 and demolished in fall 2010.
In March 2011, Goldstein said he had planned to build a 22,000-square-foot, five-story, mixed use building that would reach about 66 feet in height.
Goldstein argued in the past that he never requested a building permit for the property because he didn’t want to waste money on the design.