Residents sue Gwinnett over Lilburn-area development

Denise Rollison’s home sits on 2.4 acres near the Yellow River in Lilburn.

If a proposed 195-home subdivision is built on nearby Oleander Drive, she worries how it will affect her property.

She said her home likely would be flooded by runoff from the new development, and her privacy would be jeopardized by a walking trail near her land.

“We would have no quality of life,” said Rollison. “Our property value would be nothing. We’d never be able to sell this place.”

Three dozen residents have filed a lawsuit against Gwinnett County seeking to stop the construction of the new subdivision. While Rollison isn’t one of them, she shares the same concerns.

The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approved plans for the development in October, despite the objections of nearby residents. Recently, the battle has moved to U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where residents are seeking to force Gwinnett to reconsider its decision.

Neither the county nor the attorney representing the residents responded to requests for comment. In court documents, Gwinnett has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the residents’ arguments are baseless.

Eric Johansen, vice president of Inland LLC, the company that plans to build the subdivision, said he is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment.

Inland plans to build the subdivision on 93 acres near the intersection of Five Forks Trickum Road and Lake Lucerne Road. The developer has said 39 acres will be preserved as green space.

The subdivision also will have a swimming pool, tennis courts and a boat ramp for public access to the Yellow River. Inland also has pledged to build a new sewer line to serve the area.

In public hearings, residents expressed concerns about possible flooding and traffic problems they said the new development would cause. They also said the relatively dense development would detract from the surrounding neighborhood, where homes sit on 2 to 5 acre wooded lots.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Inland’s request for a rezoning needed to build the subdivision. In December, 36 nearby residents filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn that decision.

Among other things, they say the county's decision will increase traffic, burden already overcrowded schools and harm their property values. They say the zoning decision amounts to an illegal "taking" of their property rights without compensation, in violation of the state and U.S. constitutions.

In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the county says the residents are “disgruntled property owners.” Among other things, it argues the residents have provided no evidence that their property values will suffer.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Gwinnett County Superior Court, but the county petitioned to have it moved to U.S. District Court because of the federal issues raised. The residents’ attorney has argued it should stay in Superior Court.