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Judge rules in City’s favor

Tia Lynn Ivey News

The City of Madison prevailed in a lawsuit launched by Historic District residents appealing a zoning decision to accommodate the proposed Foster Park, a 19-house subdivision behind the Historic Thomason-Foster-Miller house in Madison. The lawsuit alleged that the City of Madison did not follow proper public hearing procedures before narrowly voting to rezone the 10.34-acre property to a Residential 4 zoning designation, which reduced the lot sizes required for each house. The lawsuit also alleged that City Councilman Joe DiLetto exhibited bias toward Historic District residents throughout the approval process.

But Morgan County Superior Court Judge Amanda Petty ruled in the City’s favor on all counts.

“We are very pleased with Judge Petty’s decision and we whole heartedly believe it was correct,” said Jim Carter, city attorney.

In her ruling, Judge Petty found that “the Petitioners were given reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard on the application in question,” and that “the court further finds that the mayor and councilmembers voted freely without bias, and without prejudging the issues as a result of any ex-parte communication from the parties.”

“The court further finds that there is evidence in the record to support the decision of the Mayor and Council amending the zoning map of the City of Madison to change the zoning of the subject property from R-2 to R-4 with conditions,” wrote Petty.

The Historic District residents who filed the suit include Theresa and Dean Bishop, Elizabeth Bell, James Orr, Celia and Walter Murray, Robert and Dena Lanier, and Penelope Foote. The group is now being represented by Athens-based attorneys, David Ellison and Michael Broun. Ellison and Broun did not return requests for comment by press time on Tuesday, Nov. 27. While the court ruling is a victory for the City of Madison and for Foster Park Developer Brad Good, it remains yet to be seen whether or not the Historic District residents will accept the outcome or appeal the ruling to a higher court.

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