Goldstein versus council
by Hilary Butschek
June 01, 2014 04:00 AM | 4985 views | 2 2 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Mayor Steve Tumlin and the City Council still haven’t reached a consensus with Councilman Philip Goldstein to bring his Theatre in the Square building into compliance with city code, despite a June 12 deadline.

The mayor said the city has the power to demolish the siding on the building through a court order if an agreement isn’t reached by the deadline.

“I’m for working it out, not tearing it down,” Tumlin said.

The council and Goldstein, whose family is one of the largest property owners in Marietta, are in a disagreement about whether Goldstein should be made to remove a marquee that is built on top of columns, which protrude out onto the city sidewalk by 18 inches. The structure is a point of contention between the city and Goldstein because he will not sign an easement agreement that would put all responsibility of a potential accident caused by the structure on the owner, not the city. An agreement about the easement was still not reached when the council met on Wednesday.

The mayor said the language of the easement agreement is not agreeable to Goldstein, but he is hopeful they will find a solution.

Some members of the council want to make the legal language in the easement agreement identical to the one the city recently approved for WellStar Health System to build a pedestrian bridge over Church Street.

“The stance the city has taken, to a major degree, is one easement, one size fits all,” Tumlin said. “(Goldstein’s) not buying that, so I’m trying to see if there a compromise in the middle.”

The main disagreement between the two is about 40 words in the easement document, Tumlin said.

“I still have a lot of hope that here’s some magic language out there that appeases him and appeases the city,” Tumlin said. “It’s not hard to get wrapped up in words and trip over your own feet, but we’re all at least talking.”

While previous discussions about the building have focused on the columns and marquee overhanging the sidewalk, the council also discussed this week removing the triangular roof decorated with drama masks.

Councilman Grif Chalfant said he thinks the structure looks unfinished from the side and is substantially different from the other buildings in the Marietta Square.

“It just looks fake. It looks like a movie set,” Chalfant said of the triangular structure. “When you look at all of them, the top pieces that go across the top (of the downtown Marietta buildings) are straight, they’re not gables.”

Goldstein said he doesn’t think he should have to make any changes to the roof, which was built to be a theater and will continue to be used that way.

“My preference would be to leave it as is,” he said. “It’s been there for a number of years now.”

Tumlin said there are many issues surrounding the building that the council members are now bringing up, making it harder to reach a consensus.

“Most of the council seemed pretty firm that they want certain things that aren’t being offered in the current document,” Tumlin said.

Tumlin and Goldstein have not yet presented a contract to the full council because it has yet to be reviewed by the city attorney.

“The mayor and I took a concerted effort,” Goldstein said. “I think the mayor and I can resolve it, but it’s got to pass the council.”

Tumlin said he dislikes continuing to delay the matter.

This isn’t the first time Goldstein and the council have clashed over property he owns.

In 2013, the city used its condemnation powers to take land Goldstein and his father, Herbert Goldstein, owned. Two parking lots, one on Marietta Parkway and another on the South Loop and Waverly Way, were taken by the city to build a trail between Kennesaw Mountain and the Chattahoochee River.

When the city took the property in January 2013 with a 6-0-1 vote, with Goldstein abstaining, he questioned the council’s right to condemn his father’s property because he said the issues with the property could have been easily solved without taking action to condemn it.

In 2011, Goldstein sued the mayor and the City Council, arguing that his building located between the Strand Theatre and Shillings on the Square was not governed by the city’s building height ordinance.

After three appeals of the suit by Goldstein, which went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, he lost and was required to pay the city $50,000 in attorney’s fees in December 2013. An empty lot remains on Goldstein’s property between the theater and restaurant.

Going head to head:

This isn’t the first time Marietta Councilman Philip Goldstein, the rest of the council and the mayor haven’t seen eye to eye:

March 2000: Goldstein upsets preservationists over a deal with developer Peter Bright of Capital City Properties, who plans to build a 12-story retail/office/residential tower a block off Marietta Square on property owned by Goldstein. Preservationists fear the high-rise will set a precedent for similar developments in the downtown area.

October 2007: The MDJ reports Goldstein and his wife filed for Homestead Exemptions on two contiguous properties in east Marietta, while tax officials say Georgia law only allows one per married couple. Goldstein claimed a Homestead Exemption on a townhouse he bought, while his wife, Elise B. Goldstein, claimed one on the adjacent townhouse. The couple had knocked out the connecting wall to make for one large townhouse.

October 2011: City Attorney Doug Haynie goes through the drive-thru at the now former Krystal by the Square on his way home from a council meeting when he spots Goldstein, huddled over a table with Lee Jaraysi and his attorney. The meeting occurred despite Haynie instructing council members not to meet with Jaraysi or his attorney, since they had been locked in litigation with the city for years. Councilman Grif Chalfant calls it a betrayal rising above the level of reprimand. Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs later rules the attorney, Richard Capriola, violated the rules of the State Bar of Georgia by secretly meeting with Goldstein.

April 2011: Goldstein’s Marietta Properties LLC sues Mayor Steve Tumlin and the City Council, claiming a five-story building at 77 North Park Square he wanted to build was not governed by the city’s height ordinance. He loses at the Cobb Superior Court level, and again at the Georgia Court of Appeals and Georgia Supreme Court, and is ordered to pay the city $50,000 in attorney’s fees.

April 2012: Mayor Steve Tumlin blasts Goldstein for his role in a botched deed to property the city thought it owned in front of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Roswell Street. Tumlin accused Goldstein of trying to personally benefit from property that doesn’t belong to him, calling such action “immoral.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 03, 2014
Keep re-electing Goldstein, so why complain?
Wayne Morris
June 01, 2014
As a taxpayer I am getting a little sick of the city paying my tax dollars for legal fees to deal with Goldstein. I think it might be time to have a recall election for councilman Goldstein. At the very least I would like to see the cit y sue him for the legal fees they have incurred dealing with a situation he caused and knew or should have known he was operating outside the code.
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