UPDATE: Suwanee Knew of School's Interest Before Former Mayor's Call

Masino, now a Gwinnett Chamber exec, reportedly accused in lawsuit of spoiling land deal.

Updated 2:10 p.m., June 10, 2011

Suwanee City Manager Marty Allen said Friday that Suwanee officials knew of a Duluth school's desire to build in the area in 2008 before speaking with former Mayor Nick Masino about the matter.

Allen said he had a discussion with Masino in 2008 involving Notre Dame Academy. But Allen said that lawsuit language attributed to Masino in the matter is "not true."

Masino, now an executive with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, could not be reached Friday over a Gwinnett County Superior Court lawsuit that reportedly accuses him of improperly passing along proprietary information that resulted in an aborted land sale.

The lawsuit was filed by Settles Bridge Farm LLC over now-cancelled plans by Notre Dame Academy to build a school on 36.5 acres in Suwanee in the Moore Road area. A Gwinnett Daily Post report says the lawsuit accuses Masino -- in 2008, after he left office -- of telling the Suwanee mayor and City Council via email that the surrounding community "would probably go nuts" over a school being built on the property.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, June 6, also names the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce as a defendant.

City of Suwanee officials are not named as defendants in the suit.

 Allen said the conversation with Masino was over whether the zoning would be allowable, and Allen said then that he did not know. The area is residential.

After the conversation with Masino, Allen said he sent an email to the then-City Council about the school's interest, and that Allen felt the area residents "would probably oppose it." The "go nuts" comment reportedly attributed to Masino in the lawsuit came from Allen, the city manager said.

Allen said he felt the residents would oppose the school's presence because of their desire to preserve the rural nature of the property. That stance resulted from the city's planning efforts, Allen said.

The Suwanee council then adopted a moratorium on large projects until they could adjust their regulations.

There have been two previous legal matters involving the City of Suwanee over the situation. Notre Dame Academy settled one, Allen said, but litigation with Settles Bridge LLC is ongoing, Allen said. The latest lawsuit involves Settles Bridge Farm LLC.

The Gwinnett Daily News report said that Masino overheard the president of Notre Dame Academy talking at a Gwinnett Chamber function about moving to a new site. According to the report, the lawsuit says Masino "intentionally disclosed confidential and proprietary business information."

The report says that the school breached the sales contract in August.

Sabrina Smith June 14, 2011 at 09:43 PM
I find it ironic that the same Chamber of Commerce that supports scheduled commercial service at Briscoe Field Airport in Lawrenceville because it will create jobs, worked behind the scenes to stop a private school from being built in Suwanee. Wouldn’t the construction of a new school create jobs? Apparently, the residents of Suwanee would “go nuts” over a school in the neighborhood, but the residents of Lawrenceville and Dacula who worry that 737s flying overhead would depress property values ARE “nuts” for even worrying about that. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for the seeming hypocrisy here. Because the Chamber of Commerce, through Partnership Gwinnett, receives $500,000 from the taxpayers each year, including the taxpayers in Lawrenceville and Dacula, I believe they owe the taxpayers an explanation of why Suwanee residents should be able to preserve their quality of life and home values, but the residents of Lawrenceville and Dacula should sacrifice their quality of life and home values, so jobs can be created.


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