City of Brooklet Gives Mayor 60 Days to Stop Violating Zoning Ordinance

The City of Brooklet has put its own mayor on notice over compliance with a local zoning ordinance.

The issue at hand is Mayor Nicky Gwinnett’s use of a parcel of land that is zoned R-1 inside the city limits. Acting City Attorney Hugh Hunter said in a letter to Gwinnett that his use of the property for a cabinet shop is not permitted.

The letter to Gwinnett, dated March 7, was obtained by TheGeorgiaVirtue.com under the Georgia Open Records Act.

R-1 under Brooklet’s Code of Ordinances is listed as ‘single-family residential district,’ which is defined as property “to provide single-family residential areas with minimum lot sizes of 22,000 square feet, said areas being protected from the depreciating effects of small lot development and excessive density and from the encroachment of those uses which are incompatible to a desirable residential environment.”

“You have been adamant that you believe you have the right to continue to use this property as a cabinet shop based upon several reasons that you believe to be legally correct. One of those reasons is that you believe you have some sort of vested right to continue tot utilize the property that is zoned R-1 because it was historically used as a cabinet shop. We have previously verbally requested that you present evidence of this historical use to demonstrate that the use of this property as a cabinet shop would qualify as a nonconforming use under the city’s zoning ordinance. To date, I am not aware of any such evidence having been presented.”

The letter also states that Gwinnett requested the property be rezoned from R-1 to C-2, a request which was denied. Hunter wrote that the Gwinnett can reapply for the zoning change, but that C-2 is still not an applicable zoning code for a cabinet shop.

C-2 under Brooklet’s Code of Ordinances is listed as ‘general commercial district’ for “those business activities which are larger users of space than commercial uses serving the central commercial district and to provide for those business activities which cater to the needs of individual neighborhoods, and highway business areas.”

A cabinet shop where cabinets are designed and built may more appropriately be zoned as Industrial. In Brooklet, there are two options:

  • I-1 or ‘light industrial’ for “industrial uses which do not create noise, odor, smoke, dust, and which do not possess other objectionable characteristics which might be detrimental to surrounding neighborhoods, or to the other uses permitted in the district” OR
  • I-2 or ‘heavy industrial’ for “industrial operations and processes which are not considered nuisances but which have objectionable characteristics such as noise, odor, smoke, or dust.”

“The City simply cannot allow you to continue violating the ordinance, and this issue must be addressed rather than continue to linger,” Hunter wrote. He suggested Gwinnett seek legal counsel and provide some sort of documentation within 60 days or face a citation for the violation or an injunction.

TheGeorgiaVirtue.com filed an Open Records Request for entities and individuals with a city business license back in February. Gwinnett is not listed. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Gwinnett’s LLC is G-3 Ventures LLC and the business type is listed as ‘any legal purpose.’

Last week, TheGeorgiaVirtue.com reported on grievances filed against Gwinnett in his official capacity as mayor by two city employees. In one of those grievances, a city employee alleged that Gwinnett “repeatedly put pressure on her to issue a business license” to him despite the zoning issues. Council has since barred him from circumventing department heads.

You can read the letter in its entirety below.
You can find Brooklet’s Charter, Code of Ordinances, and zoning laws here.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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