Suit claims Suwanee mayor blocked land sale to Notre Dame Academy

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | June 17, 2011

The owners of a 36.5-acre piece of property in Suwanee have filed a lawsuit against the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and one of its top officials, accusing them of undermining an agreement to sell property to a private Catholic school.

The suit says Nick Masino, mayor of Suwanee from 1999 to 2007, advised city officials in February 2008 to block the relocation of Notre Dame Academy in Duluth to the property in the Moore Road area of Suwanee. Then serving as vice president of the Economic Development and Partnership Gwinnett, Masino allegedly told Suwanee officials that residents “would probably go nuts over” a school being located on the property.

Notre Dame Academy eventually backed out of the contract with Settles Bridge Farm, LLC, after the city ordered a moratorium of building permits in February.

Attorneys for Settles Bridge estimate that the collapse of the deal cost their client as much as $4 million.

“We’re in one of the toughest real estate markets in history,” said Simon Bloom, attorney for Settles Bridge. “And here we have a guy who wanted to exercise his power and influence to intentionally and maliciously block the project. There’s no other way to decipher what happened.”

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