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Paulding wins one in airport dispute

By Kelly Yamanouchi - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the Paulding County airport’s right to issue bonds for a taxiway expansion, the latest legal decision in a fight over commercialization of the airport.

Residents opposed to a plan to bring airline operations to the airport filed a legal challenge to the more than $3 million in bonds for the taxiway work, which is part of the county’s preparations.

The court’s decision will have little immediate impact because some work has already been completed with other funds that will be reimbursed from the bond issue, while other work is halted pending an environmental assessment.

An attorney for the residents had argued the county’s issuance of bonds is unconstitutional, raising concerns about secrecy, use of county funds and the airport’s deal with a private firm that has a lease for the airport terminal.

But the court ruled Monday that the airport expansion would allow Paulding to reap the benefits of commercial flight service and that other agreements and approvals did not violate the law or the state constitution.

“It’s validation that we’ve done everything correctly,” Paulding commission chairman David Austin said.

Sue Wilkins, one of the residents who filed the legal challenge, said opponents to the airport commercialization “are still committed to pursuing our opposition.”

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