The Tide - notes in the ebb and flow of news

Anti-spaceport petitioners filed an appeal late Friday in an attempt to keep alive an effort to block the purchase of land from Union Carbide for the county-led commercial spaceport project.

The plaintiffs’ move will send the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett on Thursday denied the injunction, which was needed to prevent the purchase of the property until the citizens could vote on the measure. Scarlett wrote that the plaintiffs should have brought their case sooner.

Camden residents James Goodman and Paul Harris are appealing the denial on behalf of themselves and about 3,850 other Camden residents who signed a petition to force a referendum on the land purchase. Without the land, the spaceport project cannot advance. The petition, filed in Camden County Probate Court, is under review to determine if the required 10% of registered voters signed it. The Georgia Constitution gives the court 60 days from the petition’s Dec. 14 filing to vet signatures and another 30 days to hold a referendum if the signatures reach the 10% threshold.

The Federal Aviation Administration in December issued Camden a license to operate a spaceport provided it gain control of the Union Carbide land, which Camden has an option agreement to buy.

If the courts don’t prevent the purchase, petitioners fear the county will buy the land before voters can have their say on it.

Petition signers, many of whom see the Spaceport Camden project as a boondoggle, oppose the land purchase. The county touts it as an economic boost and job creator.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Dana Braun declined to comment on the appeal. Camden County officials also declined comment through spokesman John Simpson.

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