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Paulding residents file third legal challenge to airport commercialization

By Kelly Yamanouchi - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Paulding residents have filed a third legal challenge to the commercialization of the airport in their county — this time challenging airport leases and a loan made to fund a taxiway expansion.

The $1 million loan from the Paulding County Industrial Building Authority to the Paulding County Airport Authority was approved at a special called meeting in November to pay a contractor working on the taxiway work.

The lawsuit, filed this month in Paulding County Superior Court by six Paulding residents, alleges that the IBA exceeded its legal authority. “The Industrial Building Authority is simply not authorized to engage in activities involving airport facilities and similar projects,” said the residents’ attorney, Charles McKnight, in a written statement.

The airport authority turned to a loan from the IBA after residents took legal action to block $3.4 million in airport authority bonds to pay for the taxiway expansion. The bond sale is delayed pending appeal of a judge’s ruling in favor of the airport authority.

Both the airport authority and the IBA are headed by Blake Swafford. Swafford declined to comment on the suit.

The residents are asking the court to halt the IBA’s airport activities and declare null and void its airport loans and leases, including one with Silver Comet Terminal Partners, the company leasing airport terminal space and working to attract commercial airline flights.

Separately, residents recently reached a settlement calling for an environmental assessment of the airport, which will delay Paulding’s plans for airline flights for months.

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