The council agreed to Sinclair’s request without objection or comment. At Monday’s work session, however, the Council voted unanimously to add Hagemann’s appointment to Wednesday’s consent agenda, meaning it was expected to be approved.
Former Mayor Bill Dunaway may have influenced the abrupt about-face.
On Monday, Dunaway sent an email to Mayor Steve Tumlin and Council members Grif Chalfant, Jim King and Van Pearlberg, writing, “I find it very surprising, even astounding, that Bill Hagemann would be considered for the Planning and Zoning Board. Here is a person who, like Goldstein, has sued the city, while he was an appointed official of the (Marietta Housing Authority). Here is a person who single-handily (sic) stopped the redevelopment of the crime-ridden Wynnwood Apartments (sic). (Maybe the new buildings would never have been completed with the economic downturn, but, at least the apartments would have been torn down.) As a result, the city had at least 4 to 6 years more of public safety, building ordinance, and public school problems. … I would hope that you and the city council would find a better citizen of Marietta to be on the extremely important board.”
After reading Dunaway’s email, Hagemann referenced Dunaway’s penchant for granting tax allocation districts to developers.
“Dunaway wanted to give away $6.2 million dollars of the people’s money to the owners of Wynhaven,” Hagemann said. “I played a part in stopping that mistake, and for that I am proud. I would do it again.”
Hagemann said he learned that his appointment was in trouble when Tumlin called him on Tuesday to tell him he had a “philosophical issue” with him serving on the board. The next thing he knew, Sinclair called him up on Wednesday and asked him to withdraw his name, Hagemann said.
Tumlin told the Journal his problem with Hagemann was not his outstanding character or real estate knowledge, but the challenges it would present to have someone with a pending lawsuit against the city to serve on a city board.
“Therefore, I called Mr. Hagemann as a friend whom I hold in high personal regard on Tuesday and expressed my concerns as to his pending lawsuit, notwithstanding his outstanding qualifications,” Tumlin said. “Therefore, I asked Councilman Sinclair by telephone to reconsider this appointment on Wednesday morning. But for the lawsuit that is ongoing at this time, Mr. Hagemann would be an asset to any area of service to our city and would have my full support otherwise.”
In 2005, when Dunaway was mayor, the city rezoned 18.5 acres on Powder Springs Street near the Hilton Marietta Conference Center. Hagemann, who lives adjacent to the property, sued the city shortly thereafter, challenging the legality of the rezoning. In February 2006, the city, led by Dunaway, countersued Hagemann, asserting that the denial of the rezoning would cost the city tax revenue. The Georgia Court of Appeals ultimately ruled that the city’s countersuit itself was illegal. The case was remanded to Cobb Superior Court to reconsider Hagemann’s request for attorney fees. In 2008, Cobb Superior Court Judge S. Lark Ingram granted Hagemann $4,979 in attorney’s fees, Hagemann said.
City attorney Doug Haynie said the case has not received any movement since then, but remains active.
Each council member chooses someone to serve on the seven-member Planning Commission for a three-year term, provided it is approved by the full Council. Hagemann was slated to replace Carol Ann Sonnenfeld, who resigned for health reasons, said Brian Binzer, the city’s development services director.
Sinclair said he had picked Hagemann, who he has known his entire life, to serve because Hagemann has an excellent knowledge of real estate and zoning, and always looks out for the community’s interests.
“I don’t fault Bill (Hagemann) for filing a lawsuit against the city,” Sinclair said. “If the city rezones the property next to you something you think detracts from its value, and you think it was done unfairly, the courts are the appropriate way to seek remedy.”