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									Gwinnett responds to judge's order in waste transfer station suit
By Patrick Fox
/* */ /* */ Gwinnett County News 7:03 p.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7:03 p.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2009 Gwinnett County listed its reasons Tuesday for a
rezoning decision in February allowing a waste transfer station on Shackelford Road near I-85.

The rezoning, approved on a 3-2 vote of the county commission, is the subject of a lawsuit
filed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta on behalf of the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic
Mission, which sits just south of the proposed waste station. Lancaster Enterprises LLC, which
filed for the rezoning, is proposing a $4-million indoor facility that would allow garbage trucks
to release their loads for transfer onto semi-trailers.

The county's planning staff opposed the proposal, saying it was "not consistent" with the
recommended land use for the area. The planning commission voted unanimously to deny it
as well.

Tuesday's formal action by county commissioners was in response to an order from Gwinnett
Superior Court Judge Dawson Jackson seeking an explanation for the county's decision.

Commissioner Shirley Lasseter enumerated the reasons behind the decision. They include: a
lack of landfills in the county; the facility's proximity to I-85 in an area uniformly zoned for
industrial purposes; endorsements from the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia
Regional Transportation Authority; more than two dozen conditions attached to the operation
of the facility to guard against its impact on neighbors; and a reduction of traffic on the
county's surface streets.

The response to the judge's order was approved 3-2. As in the original rezoning,
commissioners Lasseter, Kevin Kenerly and Charles Bannister voted in favor. Commissioners
Bert Nasuti and Mike Beaudreau dissented.

http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/gwinnett-responds-to-judge-242114.html


Cases presented over waste transfer station
By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 17, 2009




LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawyers appeared in court Wednesday concerning the lawsuit of
the Vietnamese Catholic Church on Shackleford Road suing Gwinnett County for
allowing a rezoning, which would put a garbage transfer station next to the
sanctuary.

The reason for the hearing was so that Judge Dawson Jackson could hear arguments
from the county, the church and from the applicant who was awarded the rezoning -
Lancaster Enterprises LLC - to determine if the case should be dismissed.

It's not known when Dawson will issue his ruling.

Attorney Lee Tucker, who represents Lancaster Enterprises LLC, argued that the case
should be dismissed because no constitutional objections were presented to the
Board of Commissioners prior to the public hearing process. Tucker also argued that
because the property is owned by the Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the Holy
Vietnamese Martyr's Mission Church and the Reverend Tuan Tran had no standing to
sue since they do not own the property.

Church attorney Skip Kazmarek made allegtions of corruption. He alleged campaign
contribution laws were broken by the applicant because the man behind Lancaster
Enterprises LLC - Flowery Branch resident J. C. White - didn't disclose his
contributions made to Chairman Charles Bannister and Commissioner Shirley
Lasseter.

White has since been charged by the Gwinnett County Solicitor's Office for that
alleged violation and an October court date has been set.

Kazmarek also alleged that Jay Mikolinski had signed the rezoning application as the
"manager of the owner of Lancaster Enterprises" while also not disclosing his
contributions that were made. Kazmarek then went on to say that when White was
being deposed, he said there were no owners or managers at Lancaster.

In another twist, the church is trying to have Tucker removed from the case as the
attorney so that he can testify as to what he knew about the make up of Lancaster
Enterprises.


Developers' donations questioned
Campaign contributions land men in hot water
By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer
9/4/2009 12:01:00 AM
http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=64114&SectionID=6&SubSectionID=&S=1

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County Solicitor's Office filed formal misdemeanor
"accusation" charges Wednesday against two developers who failed to disclose
campaign contributions made within two years of their rezoning applications.

Both individuals - Mark Gary and James C. White - failed to disclose their
contributions greater than $250 made to Chairman Charles Bannister and
Commissioner Shirley Lasseter in violation of the Official Code of Georgia 36-67A-3,
according to the charges filed by Gwinnett County Solicitor Rosanna Szabo.

Both Gary and White had applied for rezonings in the county as limited liability
companies, and their cases were eventually approved by the Board of
Commissioners.

Gary is also a District 1 planning commissioner appointed by Lasseter. He was cited
with four counts in two separate rezoning applications for the $2,000 donations he
made separately to Lasseter and Bannister.

White was cited with two counts for his one rezoning application for the $4,300 in
donations he made to Bannister and for the $3,000 he gave to Lasseter.

In White's case, he applied for a rezoning as Lancaster Enterprises LLC and was
approved for a 39,200-square-foot waste transfer station to be built on Shackleford
Road near Beaver Ruin Road and Interstate 85. Both Bannister and Lasseter voted in
favor of White's controversial project even after it had been recommended for denial
by the county's planning department, planning commission and the Gwinnett Village
Community Improvement District.

Additionally, thousands of Vietnamese church members packed the public hearing
process to oppose the waste transfer station going in next to their place of worship -
The Holy Vietnamese Martyrs' Mission Catholic Church. The church and the
archdiocese of Atlanta is currently suing Gwinnett County over that rezoning
decision.

In Gary's case, he was approved for another waste transfer station as Transfer East
LLC to be built on Winder Highway near the intersection of Ga. Highway 316. Both
Bannister and Lasseter voted to approve that project, too.

Where things might get interesting for the county now involves Gary's two other
counts, those for an assisted senior living facility project that has yet to be voted on
by the Board of Commissioners. In this case, Gary applied for the rezoning as Noble
Village at Spalding LLC. The case was tabled until Sept. 15 and Commissioners Bert
Nasuti and Kevin Kenerly have said they will not vote on it because of what might be
considered a conflict of interest. That leaves Bannister, Lasseter and Mike Beaudreau
as the remaining commissioners eligible to vote, but Bannister and Lasseter are both
named in the charging documents as the elected political officials who received
donations from Gary that he is now charged with failing to disclose.

"Although these allegations do not apply to the county or any member of the Board
of Commissioners, the county is in the process of obtaining and reviewing the
accusations issued by the Solicitor," said county attorney Van Stephens in an e-mail
to the Daily Post. "While the accusations are pending, previous rezoning actions will
stand as approved by the Board of Commissioners. Pending rezoning applications will
proceed in accordance with state and local law."

In a May 3 story which appeared in the Daily Post, Gary said he didn't have to
disclose his contributions because they were made by him the individual and not the
LLC which had applied for the rezoning.

If White and Gary are convicted, the maximum penalty is $1,000 fine and 12 months
in jail, although Gwinnett County solicitor Szabo pointed out that "under the
circumstances presented in these cases, a sentence of jail time is highly unlikely."
She also said there is no minimum penalty.

Political contributions at heart of lawsuit
Church filing: Applicant didn't disclose donations to Bannister, Lasseter
7/21/2009 12:01:00 AM
By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer
http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=62324&SectionID=6&SubSectionID=&S=1

NORCROSS - Allegations of fraud and corruption are the latest additions to a lawsuit
filed against Gwinnett County by the Vietnamese Catholic Church upset about a trash
transfer station that could be built next to its sanctuary.

The lawsuit stems from a controversial February rezoning approved by the Board of
the Commissioners by a vote of 3-2.
In that decision, Chairman Charles Bannister and Commissioners Shirley Lasseter
and Kevin Kenerly voted to approve a garbage transfer station next to the church on
Shackleford Road, despite the recommendations for denial made by the county's
planning department, planning commission and the Gwinnett Village Community
Improvement District.

In the amended lawsuit filed in Superior Court, the church claims the applicant in the
rezoning - Lancaster Enterprises LLC, which is owned by J.C. White - failed to
disclose his campaign contributions made to both Bannister and Lasseter as required
in the two-year time period necessary under Georgia's Campaign Contributions
Disclosure Law.

The lawsuit further states White's daughter, Jodie Rosser, also made contributions to
the two in that time period and was then appointed by Bannister to Gwinnett's
Zoning Board of Appeals. Finally, the lawsuit claims Bannister and Lasseter violated
two sections of Gwinnett's Code of Ethics by participating in the vote and not
disclosing their financial or personal interests in the rezoning matter.

"Commissioners Charles Bannister and Shirley Lasseter had a direct or indirect
personal and financial interest in the outcome of the zoning," the lawsuit states.
"Acting on these interests was a fraudulent and corrupt practice that infected the
rezoning vote."

The amended lawsuit also sets the stage to determine the intent of Georgia's
campaign contribution disclosure law.

In a letter obtained by the Daily Post and sent to the church's attorney Monday by
Mahaffey Pickens Tucker - the law firm representing White - it called the latest
allegations "abusive litigation" and said the law requires that only the applicant for
rezoning disclose campaign contributions. It further states the definition of applicant
means "any person who applies for a rezoning action and any attorney or other
person representing or acting on behalf of a person who applies for a rezoning
action."

The letter goes on to say that Mahaffey Pickens Tucker disclosed its contributions
made to commissioners and that Lancaster didn't have to because no contributions
were made in Lancaster's name.

"To put it mildly, my client did not do anything wrong and the church's allegations
otherwise are in bad faith," said White's attorney, Lee Tucker Jr., in an e-mail to the
Post.

In an April e-mail to the Post, Tucker confirmed that White was the only owner of
Lancaster Enterprises LLC. Campaign contribution disclosure reports indicate he, not
Lancaster Enterprises, made contributions to Bannister totaling $4,300 and to
Lasseter totaling $3,000 within two years of his application for the trash transfer
station.

State Sen. Renee Unterman said in a May article in the Post that based on her
research conducted with the secretary of state's office, LLCs were included in the
definitions that define Georgia's campaign contribution disclosure law.

Gwinnett County's Solicitor Office opened a file looking into this matter in May but
has yet to reach a conclusion. It is also investigating another rezoning that saw
Planning Commissioner Mark Gary do something similar.

In that case, Gary applied successfully as Transfer East LLC for a rezoning to build a
different trash transfer station. On his application, his individual contributions made
to Lasseter and Bannister were not disclosed.

Gary has another case coming before the planning commission today, this time as
Noble Village at Spalding LLC. He did not disclose his campaign contributions on this
application, either

*******************************************************************
*

Gwinnett commissioners under fire over trash
stations
http://www.ajc.com/gwinnett/content/metro/stories/2009/05/23/gwinnett_trash_stations.htm
l

By Tim Eberly

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Saturday, May 23, 2009

After a decade in the trash business, Steve Edwards thought he knew what kind of site would
work for a waste transfer station.

Gwinnett County planners thought so, too.


Three times they signed off on his company’s requests for rezoning, only to have the Gwinnett
County Commissioners reject each plan.

The developers of the two transfer stations the commission eventually did approve had
something Edwards’ company didn’t: personal and political connections to county
commissioners.

Neither developer has any experience with solid waste, but both were linked to commissioners
through family members, friendships, political appointments and campaign contributions.

The string of waste transfer projects — six in all — has generated much controversy, including
two lawsuits filed against the county over the past five years.

Trash is big business in Gwinnett, which has a privatized collection system. Twenty-three trash
companies picked up more than 1.3 million tons of trash last year.

Waste transfer stations offer trash haulers a local spot to dump trash instead of more distant
landfills.

Edwards’ employer, Advanced Disposal Services, tried to get the county’s approval for a
transfer station in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Each of the three locations had varying degrees of
industrial activity but all needed to be rezoned from light to heavy industrial use.

The planning staff favored all three proposals, the first because it was on a road with “intense
industrial and commercial” uses, according to county records. The second had “light and heavy
industrial uses” nearby. The third was “bordered by industrial zoning on all sides.”

The commissioners rejected all three, saying they were not suited for such an intense
industrial use.

Over the next year and a half, as residential real estate market sputtered, the waste transfer
business attracted the attention of three developers. Two of the plans they proposed were
approved.

It was a notable string of votes for the commission. Of the six, five went against the advice of
the planning staff. Overall, the commission has followed the recommendations of planning
staff and the planning commission on 92 percent of all projects since 2007.

The first residential developer was J.C. White, a 69-year-old homebuilder from Flowery
Branch. White’s partner is Jay Mikolinskiof Suwanee, on the project. White owns the 9-acre
tract; Mikolinski plans to develop the $4 million transfer station.

The property, off Interstate 85 and Beaver Ruin Road, sits near the mouth of an office park
dotted with buildings bearing names like Gwinnett Corporate Center. It’s a 1-1/2 mile stretch
of road where one is more likely to pass sedans than garbage trucks.

The original plan for the land was a mixed-use development with upscale condos, shops and
restaurants. But that changed when the real estate market soured.

The county’s planning staff opposed White’s proposal for a transfer station, saying it was “not
consistent” with the recommended land use for the area, records show. The planning
commission voted unanimously to deny the plan.

Of all the projects, it has the most complicated web of political connections.

White describes Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charles Bannister as a friend, though
Bannister called White an acquaintance.

White’s daughter, Jodie Rosser, helped Bannister on his 2008 re-election campaign. Rosser, a
real estate attorney, also serves as Bannister’s appointee on the county’s Zoning Board of
Appeals. Rosser set up the project’s company and helped her father buy the land.

Bannister wasn’t the only commissioner with ties to the project. White’s real-estate broker on
the $2.2 million land deal was Theresa Kenerly, a cousin of Gwinnett Commissioner Kevin
Kenerly. She has worked as his campaign chair and treasurer for all four of his elections.

Theresa Kenerly made a commission, but said she did not remember how much. She also said
she does not believe she told her cousin.

Kevin Kenerly, who voted in favor of the project, said he did not know about his cousin’s
involvement.

Both White and Mikolinski, or companies associated with them, have contributed to the
campaigns of county commissioners, including both to Bannister and Kenerly.

Most of the money went from White to Bannister. White, his wife and his companies
contributed a total of $11,300 to Bannister’s election campaigns in 2004 and 2008.

White said that his contributions were not meant to influence votes. “If you don’t participate in
government, you deserve whatever kind of government you get.”

County Commissioner Bert Nasuti, who voted against the project, said it generated the
strongest opposition he has seen in 18 years. At least eight local businesses opposed it, saying
the transfer station did not belong in the area.

A nearby 4,000-member Vietnamese Catholic church came out in force. Members packed the
commisson’s chamber during hearings, begging the board to deny the request over concerns
about traffic, noise and odor.

The project, however, was approved, with the votes of Bannister, Kenerly and Lasseter. The
commissioners placed 33 restrictions on the development to address neighbors’ concerns.

“It’s baffling,” said the church’s attorney, Edward “Skip” Kazmarek. “On its face, it would seem
to be a violation of every recognized principal of planning and zoning that I can think of.”

Bannister said he thought the project was in the best interests of the county. He said he didn’t
even know it was White’s until after he voted for it.

Bannister, Kenerly and Lasseter all cited the light industrial zoning of surrounding property as
the main reason they supported the project, though the most of the existing businesses are
not industrial, nor is the county’s long-term plan for the area.

Bannister and Kenerly also pointed to one other nearby industrial business, a rock quarry. The
quarry is not in the office park — it’s off Beaver Ruin Road — and is not visible to passing
motorists.

Bannister said the restrictions, such as the requirement that the dumping of trash occur inside
the building, would help the facility fit in with the office park. “The building will look like any
other building — maybe even better,” he said.

A month after the board’s vote, the Catholic church filed a lawsuit against the county and
White’s company, stating that the board “abused its zoning power” and accused the county of
“spot zoning.” It has asked for a judge to review the case.

Advanced Disposal also sued the county, alleging commissioners “abused their discretion” and
had “no substantial evidence to support its decision” to reject its first project, court documents
show. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

The second successful transfer station project, southwest of Dacula, met with less controversy
but was pushed by a politically connected developer.

Mark Gary’s Lawrenceville-based development firm Gary Holding Group specializes in housing
developments for senior citizens.

Gary described Lasseter as a family friend; his wife grew up across the street from her. He
worked on her 2008 election, campaigning door to door and holding a fund-raiser for her at
his home. He donated $2,000 each to the campaigns of Lasseter and Bannister in 2007.

Gary submitted his transfer station request in October 2008. Lasseter appointed him to the
planning commission five days after taking office in January.

The land Gary plans to build the $4 million transfer station on was already zoned for heavy
industrial use — a rare find in Gwinnett. It required only a special-use permit. Located off
Winder Highway, the property is on a dead end road that also includes a Home Depot
distribution center.

The planning staff gave the project its blessing. The planning commission could not vote to
recommend it because three members, including Gary, abstained.

On April 28, the board of commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the project. Lasseter, Bannister
and Nasuti voted for it.
Kenerly abstained, saying his mother resides in a senior living facility owned by Gary.

Though her connection to Gary was closer, Lasseter said she did not stand to benefit from the
project and never considered abstaining. She said she handled it the same way as she does all
decisions.

“I don’t look at personalities. I look at projects,” she said. “I don’t look at it as Mark Gary’s. I
look at it as the project that is up in that area and I weigh it on its merits.”

That same day, the board also rejected another transfer station proposal. Commissioners cited
concerns that the trash would attract birds to a nearby airport, creating a hazard for the
planes.

Developer Eric Johansen’s plan had the approval of the planning staff and commission.
Johansen, a partner with Norcross-based development firm Inland Group, had connections,
too. But not to current commissioners; he had supported candidates who ran against
Bannister and Lasseter.

Johansen served on the planning commission from 2005 to 2008 as the appointee of then-
Commissioner Lorraine Green, who ran for chairman but lost to Bannister.

Johansen also worked on the 2008 campaign of Carole Hassell, who ran against and lost to
Lasseter.

Johansen said he was disappointed the vote didn’t go his way, but wouldn’t comment on
whether he believed politics played a role.

Bannister and Lasseter both said they treat all requests equally.

“Anybody who contributes to my campaign, anyone who is my friend, anyone who is an
enemy, will get the same result, if it is in the best interests of Gwinnett County,” Bannister
said.

Advanced Disposal, meanwhile, has moved on. After spending at least $300,000 on the three
projects and legal fees, it recently began leasing a transfer station near Lawrenceville, said
Edwards.”I thought we had three great locations for transfer stations,” Edwards said. “When it
came down to it, it didn’t go our way….The [vote] that counts is the one by the Board of
Commissioners. And we didn’t get that one.”

The votes

J.C. White’s transfer station project — The commission voted 3-2 to approve it on Feb. 3.
Commissionsers Charles Bannister, Kevin Kenerly and Shirley Lasseter voted for it; Mike
Beaudreau and Bert Nasuti voted against.

Mark Gary’s transfer station project — The commission voted 3-1 to approve it on April 28.
Bannister, Lasseter and Nasuti voted for it; Beaudreau voted against it. Kenerly abstained.

How We Got The Story

The story grew from a tip about political connections involving one of the controversial waste
transfer stations.

While reporting on that project, the AJC began looking at two similar projects of other
developers with political ties, as well as three earlier transfer station projects put forth by a
garbage company.

The AJC reviewed the planning department’s files for all six projects, interviewed all five
county commmissioners, the developers and other involved parties, reviewed campaign
contribution documents dating back to 2004, retrieved property records, obtained documents
from two related lawsuits and viewed video footage of recent and past commission hearings.

HOT NEWS ABOUT THE UNETHICAL GWINNETT COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS




Laws for disclosure in debate
Applicants not revealing campaign contributions

By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer

Sunday, May 03, 2009



LAWRENCEVILLE - A Georgia law intended to have rezoning applicants disclose
campaign contributions to local political officials appears to have been broken on two
recent rezoning cases approved by the Board of Commissioners.

In both cases, the applicants didn't disclose campaign contributions because they
were made individually and not by the limited liability company formed by the
applicant.

The latest incident involves applicant Lancaster Enterprises LLC, owned by builder
James C. White of Flowery Branch. Lancaster Enterprises requested rezoning to allow
a 39,200-square-foot solid waste transfer station on Shackelford Road near
Interstate 85. The site is next door to a Vietnamese Catholic Church and a high-tech
health care firm in a business park light industry zoning.

White failed to disclose contributions in the amount of $4,300 to Chairman Charles
Bannister and $3,000 to Commissioner Shirley Lasseter. He applied for the rezoning
as the limited liability company known as Lancaster Enterprises.

In February, Bannister, Lasseter and Commissioner Kevin Kenerly voted to approve
the station. Commissioners Bert Nasuti and Mike Beaudreau voted against it.

Gwinnett County and Lancaster are now being sued over that decision after the
county's own planning department, planning commission and the Gwinnett Village
Community Improvement District opposed the project. Commercial property owners
and thousands of Vietnamese church members also opposed the rezoning. In its
lawsuit, the Archdiocese of Atlanta called the decision a "spot zoning."

Georgia Code section 36-67A says that applicants applying for rezoning includes the
person or the attorney representing them and that a business entity means any
"corporation, partnership, limited partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise association
or trust." The law further states that applicants who've made campaign contributions
greater than $250 within a two-year time period disclose those on the application.
Failure to do so is a misdemeanor offense.
In an e-mail obtained by the Daily Post, a senate research staffer working on behalf
of state Sen. Renee Unterman said officials with the Secretary of State's office
interpreted the law to apply to LLCs.

"Their best guess is that LLCs are covered by this wording. The term 'enterprise'
should cover any form of business not specifically mentioned," the e-mail reads. "It
would be surprising if a city or county construed this otherwise."

This is the second recent case related to garbage transfer stations where the practice
of nondisclosure by LLCs and the individuals who formed them has occurred.

In the case on Alcovy Industrial Boulevard that the board approved Tuesday night,
its applicant Transfer East LLC or Planning Commissioner Mark Gary also failed to
disclose contributions of $2,000 apiece to Bannister and Lasseter.

Gary said he didn't have to make his contributions public because the application
was made by the LLC and not him as an individual.

"I know this sounds like a technicality but I didn't fail to disclose because I wasn't
supposed to," he said. "If someone would have said I need to disclose, I would
have."

He did confirm Transfer East LLC was the limited liability company he formed.

Both Bannister and Lasseter voted to approve Gary's project, which passed by a vote
of 3-1.

Commissioner Kevin Kenerly didn't vote on Gary's request because he placed his
mother in an assisted living facility owned by Gary and didn't want there to be any
"appearance of impropriety." Lasseter appointed Gary when she took office in
January.

Sen. Unterman said if one individual forms an LLC and then applies for a zoning or
special-use permit, political contributions still should be disclosed.

"It's the whole point of the law," Unterman said. "It's not to hide behind a piece of
paper and your attorneys."

Unterman said she has no problem with individuals forming LLCs for legitimate
business reasons, but was against the practice if it was to mask your identity from
the public.

"Businesses should be proud of the work they are doing in the community and the
public has a right to know who is doing what," she said. "When I was a
commissioner, I always did the research to see who was behind building what
because I wanted to see if they were doing it for economic reasons but also to see if
it was for the good of the community."

Unterman said a possible solution to the problem is for the county to go beyond the
intent of the law by including language on its zoning applications that states all
individuals associated with a project should disclose their campaign contributions.

"The Board of Commissioners can require transparency," she said. "If I owned a
business and wanted to fit in with the community and be successful, I'd go beyond
the intent of the law."

In another twist to Lancaster's case, attorney Lee Tucker Jr. said the reason JEM
Land Development had advertising signs on the proposed site of the project before
and after the zoning request was granted was because it had an agreement with
Lancaster to purchase the land. Tucker said the lawsuit by the church put that deal
on hold.

According to the Secretary of State's Web site, JEM Land Development's address is
listed as 2001 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, which is the same address that
Lancaster listed as its address with the same office in 2008. JEM's owners - James
and Elisa Mikolinski - together with their business donated $4,800 to Bannister's re-
election campaign in the two-year timespan required for campaign contribution
disclosures.

Tucker, in an e-mail to the Daily Post, said the Mikolinskis had no financial interests
in Lancaster Enterprises.

Chairman Bannister said he wasn't aware that White was involved with Lancaster or
that Gary was involved with the station on Alcovy Industrial Boulevard. For the
Alcovy site, he said Gary wasn't the applicant, Transfer East LLC was. He also said
his treasurer handles all financial transactions involving political donors.

"I don't go back and check on my disclosures and I don't make decisions based on
who contributes," he said.

Lasseter did not respond to attempts to reach her for comment.

****   Please click here to add your comments on this issue ****

Related Links: Our view: Some skirt spirit of full disclosure
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*******
Our view: Some skirt spirit of full disclosure

Sunday, May 03, 2009



The purpose of the law is simple: If you have a matter to be voted on by an elected
official and you contributed to that elected official's campaign, you need to be up
front and honest about it and let the public know.

But some are bypassing the intent via a distorted interpretation of Georgia's
disclosure law. In at least two recent cases in Gwinnett, applicants in rezoning
hearings did not disclose political contributions to county commissioners who later
voted to approve the requests.

Applicants - and their attorneys - believe they have legally skirted the law's intent by
forming limited liability companies. They rationalize that the contributions come from
individuals and the rezoning requests come from corporations, therefore, the public
no longer needs to be privy to that information even though the individual and the
owner are one and the same.

The law doesn't specifically mention LLCs but does state that corporations,
partnerships, limited partnerships, firms, enterprises, franchise associations and
trusts are all obligated to disclose. The secretary of state's office says the law's
wording covers LLCs, and legislators agree that the point of law is to prevent
applicants from hiding behind a piece of paper.

But some of these applicants would rather keep it a secret.

To go to these lengths to avoid disclosure raises more eyebrows than if the
contributions had been disclosed in the first place. Our first question is, "Why are
they trying to hide?"

Let's boil it down: Putting semantics aside, these petitioners knew the purpose of the
law and chose to ignore it. They'd prefer people not connect the dots from
contribution to vote. Why? Because if people made that connection, it might look as
if they were greasing the skids.

Business like this should be conducted in an open, transparent environment.

Shame on the applicants for contriving this subterfuge.

Shame on those elected officials who have played along.

We'd like to see these dodges prosecuted and publicized. Even though violations only
climb to the misdemeanor level, some examples will curtail future occurrences.

People aren't supposed to be greasing the skids, but it happens. And when it does,
we think the public should know about it. So did the authors of Georgia state law.
It's time these political contributors agree.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns,
letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned
them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact.
Corrections usually run on Page 4A.

Related Links:      Laws for disclosure in debate
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OTHER RELATED ARTICLES




Company files response in waste transfer station suit

By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer

Friday, April 24, 2009



LAWRENCEVILLE - The applicant who prevailed in a controversial rezoning case that
would place a solid waste transfer station between a Norcross Catholic church and a
health care company has filed its answers to the church's lawsuit in Superior Court.

Lancaster Enterprises' attorney Lee Tucker Jr. said his client - builder James C. White
of Flowery Branch - will seek a hearing to have the case dismissed.

Tucker confirmed that White was the only person with a financial interest in
Lancaster Enterprises LLC and county deed records show he purchased the subject
property in January 2006 for a little less than $2.2 million.

The Holy Vietnamese Martyrs' Mission Church, located on Shackleford Road at
Beaver Ruin Road, sued Lancaster Enterprises LLC and Gwinnett County following the
controversial rezoning, calling the move a "spot zoning." It was approved by the
Board of Commissioners by a 3-2 vote on Feb. 3.

The county's planning department, planning commission and the Gwinnett Village
Community Improvement District all were against the proposed solid waste transfer
station. Hundreds of Vietnamese church members attended both public hearings to
oppose the project, too, as did neighboring business and commercial property
owners. The Archdiocese of Atlanta also had thousands of its members sign petitions
urging the board to reject the project.

District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter included 34 conditions for the trash transfer
station to abide by in approving the project, and Chairman Charles Bannister and
Commissioner Kevin Kenerly agreed.

In Lancaster's response, they claim that the church's constitutional objections were
not filed in a timely fashion and presented on behalf of the church, not the
archdiocese. Because the archdiocese didn't file the objections, it does not have the
right to challenge the decision of the board in this land-use matter, the document
states.

Furthermore, the response says, because the church is an "unincorporated
association of the Archdiocese of Atlanta," it is neither a legal entity nor the owner of
adjacent property and, as such, has no standing to bring the complaint.

"The plaintiff in the present case is analogous to a civic association or home-owners
association, who does not have standing to challenge a zoning decision unless it is
joined with some natural person who has an ownership interest in adjoining
property," the document reads.

*******************************************************************
****
  Fox 5 Atlanta interview Archbishop Wilton Gregory about church law
          suit to stop Waste Transfer Station next to church **

  The Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters interview at the Holy Vietnamese
                           Martyrs Mission **

  Fox 5 Atlanta interview at the February 3, 2009 Gwinnett county BOC
        decision on Waste Transfer Station next to our church **
** Note: Videos were captured and recorded by Vinh Nguyen AKA Ohdaddad from the internet, HVMM is not
responsible for any information or content of these video clips


News                                                                                          articles:


New!                                                  New!                                      New!
Press                                                                                           Release:
Archdiocese           of           Atlanta            and           Holy        Vietnamese      Martyrs’
Mission          Church          File          Suit          to         Block       Waste     Operation.
Atlanta                     Archdiocese                       Mar                  3,              2009
Atlanta, GA: March 3, 2009: Archbishop William D. Gregory announced today that a
suit has been filed by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Holy Martyrs Vietnamese
Mission Church against Gwinnett County and Lancaster Enterprises to block a proposed
solid waste operation next to the church in Norcross, Georgia.                 Archbishop
Gregory said that the Archdiocese regretted having to file a legal action, but felt that all
attempts to work with the County had been fruitless. “Everyone involved in this process—
the local church, the community, the surrounding businesses—agrees that the
Shackleford Road site is a terrible location for this operation,.” He explained, “There’s
simply no rational reason for the Commission’s action.” .... read more .... click here.

New!                                                  New!                                      New!
Archdiocese, Mission Filed Suit To Block Waste Station. The Georgia Bulletin Mar. 09, 2009
ATLANTA—A suit has been filed by the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Holy Vietnamese
Martyrs Mission Church against Gwinnett County and Lancaster Enterprises to block a
proposed     solid   waste     operation  next   to    the    church       in    Norcross.

On Feb. 3, Gwinnett County commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a rezoning and special use
permits allowing the solid waste transfer station to be built, even though the county Planning
Department and Planning Commission had recommended that the requests be denied.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said that the archdiocese regretted having to file a legal action
but felt that all attempts to work with the county had been fruitless. ..... read more ...
complete                                                                                 story




New!                                                  New!                                      New!
Suit Filed to Keep Dump Away From Church. MyFoxAtlanta.com Mar. 04, 2009
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (MyFOX ATLANTA) - The Archdiocese of Atlanta has jumped into the
fight to block a waste transfer station. A lawsuit has been filed over the building of a garbage
dump next to a church in Norcross. The fight has been going on for months, church members
collected petitions and held prayer vigils but that didn't work and now there's a legal battle.
"We do not think that the Gwinnett County Commission truly considered the full impact on the
people who live nearby and those who worship at the church," said Archbishop Wilton
Gregory. .....  Read the complete story and watch the video: click here


New!                                                                 New!                                                              New!
Archdiocese     Sues    Gwinnett     Over     Waste     Facility.  AJC      Mar.   03,    2009
The Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta said Tuesday that it is suing Gwinnett County over its
decision to allow a waste transfer station to be built next to one of its churches in Norcross.

The lawsuit accuses Gwinnett County of abusing its authority in approving rezoning for the site
on    Shackleford    Road     adjacent    to      Holy    Vietnamese       Martyrs    Mission.

The lawsuit, which also names the land’s owners, Lancaster Enterprises, also argues the
transfer station would amount to a nuisance prohibited under Georgia law. ..... read more here

Gwinnett       Approve       Waste         Station       Next     To      Church.     The     Georgia       Bulletin     Feb.       05,     2009

Commissioner OK Station, Church Upset with waste transfer decision. Gwinnett Daily Post
Feb.                                    04,                                       2009

Waste          Transfer              Site            Heavy           on      Norcross.             AJC         Feb.           07,           2009

Garbage                  Wars.                       WORLD                 Magazine                 Feb.               04,                  2009

Gwinnett          OKs          Waste                Station      Near        Church.           AJC.com            Feb.         03,          2009

Gwinnett         OKs      Waste           Station       Near      Church.        Atlanta       PBS        Station      Feb.      03,        2009

Church         Hold          Vigil        ,         Trash       Plant       Opposed.           AJC.com            Feb.          01,         2009

Mission    Ask    Other      Parishes         For    Support    on    Rezoning      Issue.   The   Georgia     Bulletin    Jan.       22,   2009


At Hearing, 1,000 Oppose Waste Transfer Station.                                       The Georgia Bulletin Jan. 01, 2009

War over waste - Church fights proposal for neighboring waste transfer station. Gwinnett
Daily               Post                  Jan                19,                  2009.

Catholics        fighting      waste          plant:     Commissioner            insulted     us.       AJC.com         Jan.      06,       2009

Gwinnett         officials       advice         'no'     vote        on   waste       station.       AJC.com           Dec.      04,        2008

Residents         say       no       to        transfer        station.      Gwinnett         Daily        Post     Dec.        04,         2008

Wrap      up     of     December              Commission         public      hearing.        Gwinnett        Buzz      Dec.       22,       2008

Church members were angered when Commissioner Kevin Kenerly said . WSB News January
7,                                                                             2009


Video                                                                                                                                     links:

NEW!                                                                NEW!                                                                  NEW!
Suit Filed        to     Keep        Dump            Away       From Church.            MyFoxAtlanta.com               Mar.      04,       2009

NEW!                                                                  NEW!                                                                NEW!
Gwinnett         Give     OK      to       Waste        Dump         Near Church.            Fox      5    News,        Feb      03,       2009

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Decision on Feb. 3, 2009 . Gwinnett TV, Feb 03,
2009
Gwinnett    Give    OK    to    Waste    Dump     Near      Church.       Fox    5   News,   Feb    03,    2009

Church     Members   Protest      Proposed      Waste     Station.       CBSAtlanta.com,     Feb.   01,    2009

Norcross Church Fights to Keep Trash Dump From Opening Next Door. Fox 5 News, January
31,                                                                              2009

Church Members Pray Against Waste Transfer Station. CBSAtlanta.com, January 31, 2009

Opposition For Waste Transfer Facility Next to Gwinnett Church. WSBTV channel 2, January
27,                                                                                 2009

Gwinnett county Board of commissioners December 16, 2008 Public Hearing. Gwinnett TV23

Church               Goers                 protest.                      Fox             5                 news

Gwinnett    Church       To    Trash    Company:      You       Stink.     CBS46.com     Atlanta    TV     news

Learn        the          truth         about           Solid            Waste        Transfer        Station.


News           in              Vietnamese               (Tin              Tức          Tiếng              Việt):

Cộng Ðồng Công Giáo Tại Norcross Atlanta Phản Ðối Kế Hoạch Xây Bãi Ðổ Rác Cạnh Nhà Thờ.
SBTN, 1/11/009.

Cộng Ðồng Người Việt Ở Atlanta Chống Ðối Kế Hoạch Xây Bãi Rác. SBTN, 11/30/2008

Information:

NEW! NEW! NEW!
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Resolution on RZC 09-003 Feb 20, 2009

DENIAL RECOMMENDATION from the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and
Development Rezoning Analysis

Letter from the Archbishop to the Gwinnett County Commissioners Chairman

The Petition Letter from the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs’ Mission

Public hearing speech on December 3, 2008

Public hearing speech on December 16, 2008

Appeal speech to all Gwinnett County parishes

Appeal speech to all Gwinnett County parishes in Spanish

Thank you letter:
HOLY VIETNAMESE MARTYRS’ MISSION ♦ HỌ ĐẠO CÁC THÁNH TỬ ĐẠO VIỆT
NAM
4545-A TIMMERS WAY ♦ NORCROSS, GA 30093 ♦ (770) 921-0077 ♦ FAX (770) 921-0510



January                               21,                              2009



Dear         Brothers          and          Sisters         in         Christ:

Please accept our sincere gratitude for your prayers and support in opposing
the proposed Solid Waste Transfer Station. The outpour of encouragement
and support from all of you was simply wonderful! Your kind words and
deeds have blessed us with refreshed spirit and renewed energy to defend
our            Archdiocese              and           our            Church.

As noted in the appeal, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will
finalize their decision on this matter at the next board meeting on Tuesday,
February 3. Until that time, our entire congregation is committed to keeping
the public focus squarely on this matter. Please continue to pray and support
our                                  cause                                by:

1. Continue to call and email the Board of Commissioners to object the
Solid Waste Transfer Station. Please also tap into your contact list and
circulate our online petition (note that they do not have to be a resident of
Gwinnett County to send email).                Our website address is
www.cacthanhtudaovn.org.

2. Join us for the 12-hour Prayer Vigil at our Church on Saturday,
January 31 from noon to midnight. We are located at 4545-A Timmers
Way – Norcross, GA 30093. Members of the local media will be present to
cover                               the                          event.

3. Be present at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Building (75
Langley Drive – Lawrenceville, GA 30045) on Tuesday, February 3 at
1:00 PM for the Board of Commissioners’ meeting. We hope to get several
thousand to attend this meeting to show our solidarity in defending our
Archdiocese                and               our                Church.

Thank       you       again   for         your   continued     support!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

								
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