Cobblestone developer threatens to sue Fayetteville

Mesa Capital Partners will sue the City of Fayetteville if they don’t get the land rezoning they are requesting, according to a Feb. 5 letter filed with Fayetteville City Hall by McDonough attorney Andy Welch.

Feb. 5 is the same day that Fayetteville City Council members were scheduled to vote on that rezoning request, which would convert a six-acre tract of land along Cobblestone Boulevard from Highway Commercial to Multi-Family Resiential, allowing Mesa Capital Partners to build 33 townhouses on the property. However, Welch writing on behalf of his clients asked the city to postpone its vote until the first regular city council meeting of March.

Indeed, the city council voted to table the vote until the March 5 meeting with very little discussion.

Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission members looked at the rezoning request late last year, and when it came time to vote, the commissioners were split 3-2 as they rendered a negative recommendation to city council.

Several residents from the adjacent Oak Brook subdivision voiced objections to having the six-acre tract, which currently acts as a wooded buffer between Oak Brook and the Cobblestone Fayette Apartments community, developed as additional rental housing. The planning and zoning commission majority sided with the residents.

According to the Fayetteville Future Land Use Map, the Cobblestone Boulevard property is tagged for future residential use and, as townhouses are a less-intense use compared to apartments, City Hall staff have recommended that city council members approve the rezoning request.

“This is appropriate,” Director of Community Development Brian Wismer told city council members during the Jan. 15 city council meeting. “It fits the future land use plan.”

Wismer noted that the property has sat for decades undeveloped under the Commercial Highway zoning, partly, perhaps, because it does not front a highway. It sits behind the BP gas station on Hwy. 54 and only fronts Cobblestone Boulevard, which only serves the Cobblestone Fayette Apartments community.

“Our view is that this would be a better use,” Wismer said.

Mesa Capital Partners representatives have met with Oak Brook residents to consider their concerns, and while the developers say they are wiling to take some extra measures to enhance the buffer between their proposed townhouses and the Oak Brook subdivision, they say they are not willing to consider a different zoning or to leave it zoned Highway Commercial.

“The highest and best use of the property in its present state cannot be accomplished without the rezoning as requested,” Welch wrote in his letter to the city. “In the State of Georgia, it is a well-established principal of law that local governments must work with land owners in order to allow the highest and best use of their property. A failure to cooperate with land owners is an unjustifiable taking without due process of law in violation of the United States and Georgia constitutions.”

“The constitutional objection letter is a formality in the zoning process,” said Fayetteville City Manager Ray Gibson, explaining that this action paves the way for the land owner to appeal any negative decision by the city to the state or federal level.

And that is specifically what Welch on behalf of his clients is threatening.

“We reserve the right to present these claims and any others which we may have to the Superior Court of Fayette County or the Federal District Court in the event said application is denied or conditioned,” Welch’s letter contined.