Acworth, home builder face lawsuit alleging corruption in zoning dispute

The city of Acworth and renowned home builder John Wieland are facing an ongoing lawsuit alleging city officials and developers conspired to undermine the zoning process for a downtown townhome development.

Had the zoning process been properly followed, the Heritage in Acworth development would have been reduced in size by 20%, according to a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs Krista Lankswert and Joseph Sica.

Credit: Taylor Croft

Credit: Taylor Croft

Lankswert and Sica live in downtown Acworth next to the Heritage in Acworth development. The complaint alleges the city and those involved with the development tried to “erase” trees on their property line by not including them in the zoning documents — allowing the builder to bypass requirements for protecting the trees, which would have reduced the development’s footprint.

Now, the development “encroaches approximately six feet” onto the plaintiffs’ property, the complaint alleges.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Deborah Young, declined to comment.

Assistant city attorney Daniel White said the plaintiff’s dispute is with the developers, not with Acworth officials who handled the zoning process appropriately, he said.

“They’re upset about some trees on the property and think the developer has affected some trees on the property line,” White said. “But the city’s position is that’s an issue between the property owner and the developer.”

Plaintiffs also allege in the lawsuit that the tree root systems, damaged by the construction, are now a danger to both properties.

The defendants — including the city of Acworth, multiple city employees, and several companies involved with the townhome development — all denied the allegations in the suit. Attorneys for Wieland could not be reached for this story.

Several city employees, all represented under the city of Acworth’s attorneys, are directly named in the suit. Plaintiffs allege they reached out to city employees for help when the developers pushed the property to “a new property line that extended the development” onto Lankswert’s property, but the city did not intervene.

The lawsuit is ongoing in Cobb County Superior Court.