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.