Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly Voluntarily Suspends Himself

Without officially resigning, embattled Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly voluntarily suspended himself until the charges have been resolved or until Kenerly’s term ends at the end of December.   Kenerly is under indictment for allegedly accepting $1 million in bribes related to County land purchases and failing to disclose a relationship with a private developer seeking rezoning from the County.

Kenerly was facing increasing criticism from voters.

“That’s what he needed to do,” said Steve Ramey of the Founding Fathers Tea Party Patriots. “He should have done it a long time ago.”

James Bell,  co-founder of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance, said Kenerly’s presence on the commission was a distraction.

“I can’t say I’m happy, but I’m pleased,” he said. “Kenerly did the right thing in stepping down.”

Fellow alliance member Ron Williams agreed.

“I think it was a little late,” he said, “but it was the right thing to do.”

 

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Former AJC Headquarters To Replace City Hall East

Cox Enterprises donated the AJC’s former downtown headquarters to the City of Atlanta – a donation of valued at over $50 million that includes the nine-story office building on 72 Marietta Street, the four-story printing press building between Fairlie and Spring streets, warehouse space and surface parking.  The donated site is more than 6 acres of prime real estate located in the heart of downtown, near City Hall, Centennial Olympic Park, and the proposed multi-modal passenger terminal.

The City will spend $1.5 million to retrofit the building to put police and fire training academies in the buildings, use the auditorium for public meetings, create a gallery space and use warehouse and parking space in the wake of the sale of City Hall East.

Mountain Park Residents Lash Out At City Council

Following a stinging defeat in Mountain Park’s five-year litigation over its lake, residents lashed out at the City Council and begged for an end to the litigation and staggering attorney’s fees.

“For five years we’ve chased a dream, maybe a pipe dream, maybe a Clean Water Act dream,” said George Menden, a lawyer. “We should not continue this folly.”

Gwinnett County Planning Commission Recommend Denial of Tucker Crematory

By a 4-3 vote the Gwinnett County Planning Commission recommended denial of a special use permit for Bill Head Funeral Home that would allow it to construct the 436-square-foot crematory incinerator at its Tucker location on Lawrenceville Highway.

The proposal has met almost unanimous opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods because the crematory would be about 100 feet from several residences and within a half-mile of 17 residential subdivisions.

The Planning Commission vote is non-binding.  The application now proceeds to the Gwinnett County Commission, which could vote on it as early as November 16.

Georgia Supreme Court Revives Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation Lawsuit

The Georgia Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s dismissal of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation‘s legal challenge to tax breaks granted by the County to six large developments in Buckhead and Midtown that include The St. Regis Buckhead, The InterContinental Buckhead and The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Midtown.

The Fulton County Board of Assessors assigned to these development projects a “50 percent valuation formula” to determine the fair market value of the property.  Under the formula, the board agrees to initially value the estate at 50 percent of its overall fair market value and then increase the value by 5 percent a year over the value of the lease.

The lawsuit alleges that this valuation formula is unconstitutional and illegal because it allows the developers to pay less than their fair share of property taxes because the estates were initially appraised at less than fair market value.

The trial court had dismissed the lawsuit without hearing any evidence.  The case now proceeds to trial.

You can find a copy of the Court’s decision here.

Mountain Park Technically Wins, But Still Loses

After nearly five years and $2 million spent in legal fees, a jury awarded the tiny north Fulton County town only $45,000 in its battle against upstream developers over silt in its lake.  Mountain Park had sought upwards of $3.8 million in damages, but the jury heard evidence that silt had long been a decades-long problem complained about by the City.  The jury refused to award one cent towards attorney’s fees.

Mayor Jim Still had this to say on the city’s website:

The jury in the Lakes litigation trial found two out of four defendants guilty of Clean Water Act violations but did not determine to award the amount the City of Mountain Park was requesting. $45,000.00 was the amount of damages awarded the city. The Judge will, in the coming weeks, also be considering what additional remedies and penalties to award against the Defendants found to have violated the Clean Water Act. The City Council will be considering this outcome and a town hall meeting will be held to review the verdict.

Atlanta, Top Green City?

Mayor Kasim Reed unveiled his ambitious plan for Atlanta to become one of the top 10 green cities in the nation.  Currently, Atlanta ranks 19th on SustainLane U.S. City Rankings.  Mayor Reed’s plan seeks to:

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the City 25% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050

Reduce energy use for existing municipal operations 15% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050

Make renewable energy 5% of total municipal use by 2015

Bring local food within 10 minutes of 75% percent of all residents by 2020

You can review the City’s complete Sustainability Plan Executive Summary here.