Earlier this year the owners of property adjacent to the Publix Shopping Center requested a building permit from the City to construct mini warehouse self-storage units. Because such units were not specifically named as permitted uses in the applicable commercial zoning district of the Mirror Lake Planned Unit Development (PUD) City staff declined to issue the permit.
The owners subsequently requested to be placed on the Agenda of the Villa Rica Mayor and Council meeting on March 5, 2007 to ask the Mayor and Council for an "interpretation" of the permitted uses for the applicable zoning district. After a lengthy public hearing and discussion the Mayor and Council voted no as to mini warehouse self-storage units as a permitted use. Following this decision the owners filed suit in Carroll County Superior Court alleging the denial violated zoning law and their property rights. A visiting Senior Judge from Thomaston ( Upson County ), Georgia heard the case in a bench trial this spring. At the direction of the Mayor and Council the City presented a vigorous defense of its position. The City was represented by both the City Attorney and an attorney specializing in zoning laws appointed by the City's insurance carrier. The trial preparation included consultation with selected residents of Mirror Lake who opposed the proposed construction at the public hearing.
Within the last few days the judge has rendered his opinion and unfortunately ruled in favor of the plaintiff's (the owners) position that the zoning district did permit the location of mini warehouse self-storage units. After review of the decision we have been advised by both local counsel and the expert counsel provided by the insurance carrier that in their opinion there is less than a five percent (5%) likelihood the City would prevail in an appeal of the decision. In fact the insurance carrier has advised there is so little merit for the appeal that they would likely not provide legal counsel for such an effort.
Our emphasis now is to encourage the potential purchaser of the project and future owners/operators of the project to honor the buffering and related commitments (such as lighting, hours of operation, prohibition of outside storage, etc.) that were made at the public hearing in March. We have some preliminary indication the owner may be receptive but as a result of the court decision there is no requirement/agreement to do so. We will continue every effort to secure such an agreement and update you on the status at this site.