Cobb Superior Court Judge George Kreeger ordered Goldstein’s Marietta Properties LLC to pay $50,000 in October, but Goldstein appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which on Thursday denied his request.
City attorney Doug Haynie called the ruling “a large win, and it’s the end of a long road. The city today calls on Mr. Goldstein to do the right thing consistent with his oath of office and to pay the city which he serves.”
Goldstein’s Marietta Properties LLC sued the city in April 2011, claiming a five-story building at 77 North Park Square between the Strand Theatre and Shillings Restaurant he wanted to build was not governed by the city’s new height ordinance.
Goldstein lost at the Cobb Superior Court level, and lost again when he appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. He lost a third time after appealing to the Georgia Supreme Court. The city asked for attorney’s fees, which Judge Kreeger granted in October, and when Goldstein appealed that request, it was denied too.
“This ends about two and a half years of litigation,” Haynie said. “This is the last avenue of appeal available to Mr. Goldstein.”
Goldstein referred comments to his attorney, Richard Wingate, who agreed with Haynie that no further appeal was possible.
“We’re disappointed with the ruling, but we’ll follow the court’s mandates,” Wingate said.
Chalfant wants to see the check
Councilman Grif Chalfant described what it felt like to be sued by a fellow councilman.
“It’s demeaning, embarrassing, let’s leave it at that. It’s a frivolous lawsuit to begin with and it’s backed up by the courts,” Chalfant said.
Chalfant said the ruling made it a great day for the city.
“I’d like to be there when he writes the check,” Chalfant said.
Goldstein bought the property in question in 2001 for about $575,000, which at the time contained a two-story building built by Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1917. Every couple of years thereafter, he obtained a “certificate of approval” from the city’s Historic Board of Review granting permission to demolish the structure and build a new building in its place. Goldstein razed the building in 2010, leaving a crater off Glover Park. But while he held a certificate of approval, Goldstein never applied for a building permit with the city, and it was this failure to apply for such a permit that hurt him in his case.
Also in 2010, Mayor Steve Tumlin formed a citizens committee, chaired by Becky Paden, charged with giving a recommendation on the proper height of buildings surrounding the Square. The committee’s recommendation led to the council lowering its height ordinance from 85 to 42 feet on the grounds that a building any higher than that would jeopardize the historic and aesthetic nature of the Square. The new ordinance prompted Goldstein to sue. The 77 North Park Square property has remained a fenced-off hole in the ground since the 2010 demolition. Goldstein is advertising it for ground lease.