LEESBURG, Ga. — The man who threatened to sue the city of Leesburg at the City Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday night said Wednesday he’s willing to forego his suit if he has no other issues with city officials.
Tommy Hazel, a real estate title abstractor, sent a letter to Leesburg officials last Thursday notifying them of his intent to file a civil rights violation lawsuit. In the letter, Hazel demanded a $50,000 settlement, citing a letter signed by City Clerk Casey Moore and City Water Superintendent Randy Kirby as the basis for his suit.
The letter, which stemmed from a disagreement over Hazel’s unpaid water bill, was dated Sept. 26. It stated, “Please allow this letter to serve as notice of a vehicle parked in the right of way at the above-mentioned address. We have noticed that a vehicle has been parked on top of our meter box located in the city-owned right of way at your address. We wish to notify you of damage potential in this situation as well as your responsibility should there be any repairs needed.
“We ask that the vehicle be moved immediately so that the meter box can be checked and that there not be any other vehicles placed on city-owned property.”
In his letter of response, Hazel told city officials he no longer intended to maintain the right of way and that he should be reimbursed for maintaining that property that adjoined his for the past 10 years.
“(Your letter) denies me and my family use of public property, including the 14 1/2-foot right of way attached to the front of my yard,” Hazel wrote. “... Because I can no longer park on city-owned property and will be cited for same according to the above-referenced letter, every person in Indian Oaks Plantation Subdivision should also be subject to the same punishment and treatment.
“In addition, due to the prohibition on parking on any city right of way or property, I am unable to go to City Hall to pay my water bill. Therefore, please make arrangements for payment by me at another location at your expense where I am allowed to park.”
Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn chalked the incident up Wednesday to “overreaction.”
“I think (Hazel) was heated when he wrote that letter, and he’s calmed down since then,” Quinn said. “When he threatened to sue the city, we turned the matter over to our insurance company, and they said we’d take no action against him as long as he didn’t follow through with his lawsuit.
“I know Tommy, and I don’t think this is something that will be a continuing issue. We talked earlier today, and I think we’ve reached an understanding. Of course, he has two years in which to file a lawsuit, so the ball’s kind of in his court.”
Hazel said he left Tuesday’s council meeting abruptly when Leesburg Police Chief Charles Moore moved from the back of the City Hall meeting room to a seat directly behind Hazel, who was speaking to the council from a podium facing council members.
“It may seem a little paranoid, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the police chief directly behind me,” Hazel said. “There’s a legitimate reason for that. I’m currently involved in a lawsuit with a group that has threatened me and members of my family.
“I have a martial arts black belt, and I have the right to respond to anyone grabbing me without cause.”
Quinn said members of the City Council, who went into executive session to discuss potential legal issues related to Hazel’s threat after he left the meeting, misunderstood Hazel’s statement that he “had a Class 3 weapon in his truck.”
“I think some of the council members saw that as a threat,” the mayor said. “I didn’t. I thought that Mr. Hazel was saying that anyone who towed his truck would then illegally be in possession of a Class 3 weapon, a machine gun. I didn’t see it as a threat at all.”