A lawsuit alleging Glynn County personnel approved a preliminary subdivision plat in violation of the county’s zoning ordinance is heading to the Georgia Supreme Court on appeal.
The subdivision in question is 50 Oaks, shown in county documents as a development of 54 residential units in 15 row houses on a lot behind Bennie’s Red Barn on South Harrington Road.
“This case arises out of the decision of Pamela Thompson, in her capacity as the Glynn County Community Development (Department) director, to approve the preliminary subdivision plat for the Fifty Oaks subdivision on the north end of St. Simons Island. Petitioners allege that they own property near the site on which the subdivision will be constructed and are opposed to the construction of a new subdivision near their property,” according to the final order in the case, written by Kelley.
Five St. Simons Island landowners brought the case to the court in September of 2018, but only two — Mark Forsling and Shedrick Ramsey — are listed as plaintiffs in the appeal. Listed as defendants are Thompson; 50 Oaks LLC, the developer; the Gentile Family Trust, which currently owns the lot behind Bennie’s Red Barn; and each member of the Glynn County Commission of 2018.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege Thompson approved Fifty Oaks’ preliminary subdivision plat in violation of the county zoning ordinance.
“They claim that various alleged deficiencies with the preliminary plat and the underlying zoning classification of all or some of the property require that Thompson’s decision to approve the preliminary plat be reversed or declared invalid,” Kelley wrote in his final order.
Among other things, the plaintiffs claimed the property had never been properly rezoned from its original residential R-6 zoning — meaning the row house development could not be compliant unless the property goes through the rezoning process again — and that the lack of notice to adjoining property owners about the preliminary plat approval constitutes a violation of their due process rights.
Even if the rezoning had not been proper — Kelley offered multiple counters to the claim — no one had appealed the decision at the time or since.
Additionally, in his final order, he wrote that the landowners’ due process rights were not violated because Thompson’s decision was not a quasi-judicial one.
“The law does not recognize a property right to be free from development on neighboring property that is a permitted use under its zoning classification. Put simply, procedural due process is not triggered in this scenario,” according to the order.
In their appeal, the plaintiffs claim Kelley’s judgment conflicted with the Georgia Civil Practice Act by applying the wrong standard of review to the motion to dismiss and left them no other means to seek legal recourse by ruling out the writ of mandamus, writ of certiorari and injunctive relief.
While the case was filed in Georgia Supreme Court, the court could decline to hear the case and hand to the Georgia Court of Appeals.