Mayoral candidate says legal dispute with city over firewood is politically-motivated

CUMMING, Ga. — A man running to unseat a metro Atlanta mayor says the power of city government is being unfairly turned on him.

The city of Cumming says this is simply a case of someone not following city zoning laws.

It’s all over a stack of firewood.

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The legal mess is about wood stacked up in a far corner of a Cumming home, which is owned by William Stone. He rents the home to a long-time tenant.

Stone says that tenant has been selling a little firewood on the side for years, but that a fight with Cumming City Hall only started when Stone’s campaign signs started going up around town.

William Stone is challenging incumbent Mayor Troy Brumbalow for the city’s top job.

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“I mean at the end of the day, I think this is kind of cut-and-dry. It’s politically motivated. It is,” Stone said. “If it’s not, we’re wasting a lot of city resources over something pretty minor.”

Code enforcement first cited Stone’s tenant for operating an illegal business out of the home in July.

Stone says at that point, the man stopped selling the firewood and he stepped in to try to sort it out. Stone applied for a business license, but it was denied.

Since then, city officials detailed in a legal letter how they essentially set up a firewood sting.

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Officials wrote that: “City code enforcement contacted the firewood sales business and the person answering the phone offered to sell firewood.”

“It’s crazy,” Stone said. “Over firewood I never sold. I never did sell.”

Now, Stone has been served with a legal summons for a court date for not removing the wood.

An attorney for the city wrote in a letter that this is not a political vendetta, writing: “It appears the city and its officials did everything they could to avoid political entanglement.”

Stone claims it is all really just small-town politics, starting with the mayor.

“It seems pretty political to me,” Stone said.

Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow declined an interview request, but told us in an email that he doesn’t get involved in city zoning disputes.

“Mr. Stone was treated by code enforcement in the manner any city resident would be treated who violated a city ordinance. I support the city’s code enforcement officers and trust them to carry out their duty to enforce the city’s ordinances free of prejudice. While I was made aware of the ordinance violation, I was not an active participant in the process,” Brumbalow wrote in an email.

William Stone is hiring an attorney to fight the dispute in court.

He and Brumbalow will also face off in the November election.