Roswell council moves forward on lawsuit settlement



ROSWELL, Ga. — The Roswell City Council voted Monday to ratify a general release and settlement agreement along with approval of an amended certificate of appropriateness between Mayor Jere Wood, the Roswell City Council and the City of Roswell.

The settlement regards a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court by Wood about whether he can renovate his property in the historic district. Wood had sought approval to build a structure on the corner of Canton and Woodstock Streets.

Wood recused himself from Monday’s discussion.

The vote passed by a narrow margin, with councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Donald Horton acting as the tiebreaker. He, along with councilmembers Nancy Diamond and Jerry Orlans voted for approval.

This was a joint vote for two items of consideration: the ratification of the settlement agreement and the approval of the amended COA.

“The city responded to the lawsuit and filed a motion to dismiss what remains pending in court,” said Angela Davis of Jerrard & Davis, LLP, who represented the city. “The court has referred this matter back to the council for further consideration.

“The judge was very dismayed at the concept of the infighting in the city of Roswell and made multiple comments about the cost of money to constituents for this kind of litigation,” Davis added. “He encouraged us to talk about it and try to reach a resolution.”

Some additional considerations were added to the COA to potentially settle the litigation. The additional conditions for the building project are:

  • The wing would be reduced by five feet, creating a minimum 20-foot distance from the Perry Place; 
  • Elimination of the stairs and accompanying wing wall from the south side, and no stairs may be relocated externally unless additional stairs are required by staff pursuant to building code requirements;
  • A required 20-foot dedication of easement at the intersection

Councilmember Mike Palermo said that he fully supported finding a win-win solution to the lawsuit, but he was disappointed by the settlement agreement.
“I was supporting finding the right agreement, but I don’t think that this was the right agreement,” Palermo said.

Councilmember Marcelo Zapata brought up that the city has had two lawyers who had assured them that they had a “great technical case to win in court.” He pointed out that the first lawyer dropped out in the middle of the case.
Davis said the initial lawyer dropped out because he took another job with the State House. He no longer works with her firm, but their position on the case hasn’t changed.

“I don’t think there’s a good option in this situation,” Diamond said. “It was clearly in the best interest of the city and all of us involved to get this behind us. It isn’t always the popular thing to do, but it is the right thing to do.”

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