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Judge Throws Out Developers' Lawsuit vs. Gwinnett Chamber, Masino

Former Suwanee mayor is 'very happy' about the dismissal.

A Gwinnett Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit by developers Settles Bridge Farm LLC against the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and VP Nick Masino over a failed 2008 land sale in Suwanee.

The lawsuit was filed in June by a development group led by former homebuilders Brad Williams and David Bowling. The plaintiffs said that Masino, a former Suwanee mayor, tried to abort a land deal between the developers and Notre Dame Academy of Duluth.

"I'm very happy, and I know the chamber is as well," Masino said Friday morning of the order by Judge Dawson Jackson. "I had said all along in statements to my attorney that 100 percent of the reasons for the lawsuit was fabricated."

The lawsuit alleged that Masino, who left office in Suwanee in 2007, disclosed proprietary information by Notre Dame Academy officials in a 2008 phone call to Suwanee City Hall.

Also, the suit alleged that Masino told City Manager Marty Allen that residents in the area where the developers wanted to sell "would go nuts" if they learned a school would be built in the area. The "would go nuts" statement actually was made by Allen in an email to City Council members. Masino said in court documents that his phone call to City Hall was to advise city officials to check on zoning in the area.

"The justice system worked here," Masino said. "We went through the process."

The same developers have a lawsuit pending against the City of Suwanee over the same failed land sale. In that case, the developers have won a $1.8 million jury award, and attorneys for both parties are filing additional documents. Mediation has failed to bring the parties to a compromise on money, but Suwanee is not obligated to pay the award pending additional developments.

The developers had an agreement to sell about 36 acres for $8 million in the Moore Road area to Notre Dame Academy, which wanted to build a large campus. Suwanee enacted a special-use permit process, which the school never tested, and the school cancelled its sales deal in 2010.

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