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Friday, May 9, 2014

Judge rules in favor of city in Falcons stadium lawsuit

A legal challenge by several Vine City residents to block public funds from being used to help build the proposed Atlanta Falcons stadium has been stopped in its tracks.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville yesterday entered an order to validate up to $278 million in hotel-and motel-tax revenue bonds for the construction of the proposed Falcons stadium. In doing so, he effectively tossed out a 20 different objections filed by five Vine City residents collectively listed as "the Intervenors" - Rev. William L. Cottrell, Sr.; Mamie Lee "Mother" Moore; Tracy Bates; John Lewis III; and Joe Beasley - to block the use of public money for the $1.2 billion sports facility.

Last month, the Intervenors' attorneys John Woodham and Thelma Wyatt Moore argued more than 20 objections to the issuance of the bonds. But Glanville limited the scope of the hearing to whether the stadium bond proposal was "sound, feasible, and reasonable."

Glanville said the Intervenors "have not satisfied their burden" for proving that the General Assembly's law to extend the hotel-and-motel tax was unconstitutional. For varying other reasons, he ruled that the Intervenors' technical challenges to the stadium bond process lacked merit, occurred in an untimely fashion, or were not "proper subjects for a bond validation proceeding.

"I'm pleased that the court upheld our position, and that we can continue to move forward with this important project that will be a significant anchor to our ongoing development efforts in Downtown Atlanta," Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement. "I'm confident this stadium will benefit not only the city's job creation and tourism, but it will also benefit the people who live, work and play in the surrounding neighborhoods."

Back in April, Woodham told CL that his clients would likely appeal Glanville's ruling if he tossed out their legal challenge. We've reached out to Woodham and Moore for comment and to see if an appeal will be filed. If we hear back, we'll post an update.

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