Monday, June 9, 2014

Residents file appeal over Falcons stadium bond ruling

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM

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  • Atlanta Falcons
A legal effort to block the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for part of the proposed Atlanta Falcons stadium development could soon be headed back to court.

A group of five English Avenue and Vine City residents last Thursday filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia in hopes of overturning a recent ruling that has cleared the way for at least $278 million in hotel-and-motel tax revenue bonds to help pay for the $1.3 billion stadium development. The bond validation could also lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional public money being put toward maintenance and operating costs for the football and soccer stadium.

The latest legal action from the stadium neighborhood residents collectively known as "the Intervenors" - Rev. William L. Cottrell, Sr.; Mamie Lee "Mother" Moore; Tracy Bates; John Lewis III; and Joe Beasley
- effectively blocks the issuance of the bonds until an appellate court looks at the group's appeal.

The appeal had been expected for the past several weeks. Back in April, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville heard more than 20 different objections from attorneys John Woodham and Thelma Wyatt Moore on behalf the Intervenors.

On May 8, Glanville tossed out the residents' challenge after deciding that the the group had "not satisfied their burden" in proving that a state law extending the hotel-and-motel tax was in fact unconstitutional. The judge also said that a series of technical challenges in the Intervenors' lawsuit lacked merit within a bond validation proceeding. Woodham declined to comment regarding the appeal and Moore has not returned CL's calls.

Two weeks after the ruling, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank held an extravagant groundbreaking ceremony filled with fireworks, pyrotechnics, and a 3-D light show to commemorate the beginning of the stadium construction. Falcons execs and city officials expect for the multi-use facility to be finished sometime in early 2017.

"Because the case involves constitutional issues, this appeal goes directly to the Supreme Court of Georgia," Mayor Kasim Reed spokeswoman Melissa Mullinax tells CL. "Should the intervenors proceed with their appeal, the city and Invest Atlanta remain confident that the Superior Court's order will be upheld by the Supreme Court of Georgia."

The deadline for the stadium deal's bond validation is on July 31.

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