The lawsuit, filed June 15 in Cobb Superior Court by Mack Dobbs Properties LLC, names the city of Kennesaw, as well as Mayor Mark Mathews and the city council members as defendants. The lawsuit states that the city’s zoning ordinance violates the state constitution.
When Celestino Venturi was opening the shopping center in 2004, he agreed to a stipulation prohibiting him from opening a pawnshop. But last year, he signed a five-year lease with the Cruchelow Jewelry & Loan pawnshop, which after a city oversight and subsequent city council approval received a business license, as well as pawn and precious metal licenses.
The store closed earlier this month after the city council refused to agree to an amendment to the Mack Dobbs Point shopping center’s zoning that would have allowed for pawnshops to be included among acceptable uses at the site.
But now the lawsuit asks that the city be directed to work with Venturi to rezone the property, claiming that the city has made no effort to prove that its denial of the rezoning the property was constitutional.
The City Council acted on the recommendation of Kennesaw’s planning commission and voted down the proposed rezoning by a 5-0 vote on May 16.
The conditional zoning classification for the shopping center is equivalent to “a substantial destruction of plaintiff’s valuable property rights,” the lawsuit states.
The suit also criticizes the zoning hearings the city holds because they limit the time they allow applicants to make a case for rezoning and don’t allow for proper response to opposition.
“The defendants have delegated their authority to zone property to the citizens at large by basing their decision on whether there is vocal opposition to a zoning request,” the lawsuit states.
The suit asks for unspecified “appropriate damages,” as well as court costs, including attorney fees.
Mathews said Thursday that he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
Efforts to reach Venturi’s lawyer; Garvis Sams of the Marietta firm of Sams, Larkin & Huff; were not successful.