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Attorney says Paulding building authority ‘not authorized’ to aid airport
by Tom Spigolon
January 07, 2014 02:32 PM | 2429 views | 1 1 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A lawsuit six Paulding residents filed in Superior Court last week asked a judge to stop the county building authority’s efforts to improve Silver Comet Field and nullify its airport leases and loans to the airport because it is “not authorized” to do so, their attorney said.

The suit alleges the Paulding County Industrial Building Authority exceeded its legal bounds in actions related to the Paulding County Airport Authority, including approving a $1 million, no-interest loan to the airport authority for widening a taxiway in November as part of an effort to bring commercial airline service to Silver Comet Field.

Attorney Charles McKnight said the industrial building authority “is simply not authorized to engage in activities involving airport facilities and similar projects.”

“This is the latest effort by the taxpayers of Paulding County to require the airport authority to follow the law and be transparent and accountable to the taxpayers in their plan to transform the Paulding County airport into Atlanta’s second commercial airport,” McKnight said.

The suit against both the building authority and airport authority also alleges the building authority illegally engaged in a series of activities involving construction, operation and lease of the terminal building at the airport.

The airport authority is named as a defendant because it would receive the loan proceeds and other benefits from the building authority’s alleged improper activities, McKnight said.

Building authority chairman Boyd Austin responded to the legal action -- the third in three months against expansion of the six-year-old facility.

“I believe the most recent suit is frivolous, and a waste of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to defend,” Austin said in a statement.

Residents who filed the lawsuit included Anthony Avery, Bob Board, Mary Board, Janice Louie, Jordan Louie and Sue Wilkins.

Paulding Airport Authority signed a lease with a private developer, Silver Comet Parterns, in November 2012 but its plans were not made public until the following October.

Avery and Wilkins then began a series of legal challenges to the airport authority in October after filing an objection to a county-backed bond issue for a taxiway widening.

They objected after Silver Comet Partners’ leader, Brett Smith, said he was seeking an airline to provide up to two passenger flights a day from the Paulding airport.

Smith said it was part of an overall effort to recruit aerospace-related industries to airport land his company planned to develop.

A judge later approved the bond sale, but a pending appeal has delayed it and airport officials sought the building authority loan to keep construction moving forward.

Avery and Wilkins also were part of a group that won a settlement in December with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington for, among other things, conducting a more intense review of the airport improvements than it had previously done.

The improvements included a 600-foot extension of the runway they alleged was being done solely to benefit Silver Comet Partners.

The settlement delayed the runway work but did not affect the taxiway widening.

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