Georgia Supreme Court Denies Camden County Request for Emergency Relief on Spaceport Vote Certification

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Georgia Supreme Court denied a request from Camden County for emergency relief to prevent the certification of a referendum in which residents voted overwhelmingly to rescind the county’s purchase of 4,000 acres from Union Carbide for the construction of Spaceport Camden.

The decision will allow Camden County Probate Judge Robert C. Sweatt Jr. to certify the results of the March 8 referendum in which 72 percent of voters cast ballots against the purchase of the property. The Current reports that this is not the end of the county’s efforts to have the referendum voided as being illegal under the Georgia constitution.

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Voters Overwhelmingly Reject Spaceport Camden Plan

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Camden County voters overwhelmingly rejected the Board of Commissioners plan to buy 4,000 acres of land to build a spaceport near on the Georgia coast for small-satellite launch vehicles.

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Camden County Could Invalidate Negative Public Vote on Spaceport

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

With the fate of Spaceport Camden up in the air in a Tuesday referendum, the Camden County Board of Commissioners took action on late Friday afternoon that could allow it to invalidate a vote against purchasing the land for the facility.

Camden County Board of Commissioners appointed five members to the previously vacant Spaceport Camden Authority during a special meeting that started at 4:30 p.m. EST. The members include: County Commission Chairman Gary Blount, Commissioner Chuck Clark, former Commissioner David Rainer, retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert S. Dickman and businessman C.B. Yadav.

The Current explains what the commissioners might be up to:

Citizens who attended the Friday meeting voiced their concern that the commission is planning an end run around their vote by having the Spaceport Authority purchase the land. The option contract the county signed with Union Carbide allows the county to transfer the option with the consent of Union Carbide.

In public comment during the meeting, resident and spaceport critic Steve Weinkle asked the commissioners if the purpose of the appointments was to do just that.

They declined to answer.

“If they don’t wish to answer that question, then we can assume the worst,” Weinkle said.

The meeting came on the same day that a judge rejected the county’s attempt to invalidate the referendum as violating the Georgia constitution. The vote was triggered when opponents submitted signatures of 10 percent of active county voters as required under the state constitution.

Rep. Steven Sainz, who represents Camden County in the Georgia legislature, posted a video on Facebook saying this was not the purpose of the spaceport authority when he co-authored legislation that created it. The authority was created to work with companies that decided to launch from the spaceport. To date, the county has not announced any tenants.

Supporters of the spaceport say it will bring high tech jobs and tax revenues to the county. Opponents claim the benefits have been overstated, and that visitors to Cumberland Island National Seashore and private homeowners in the area would be at risk from launch failures.

Spaceport Camden to Go Before Voters on March 8

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

The fate of Spaceport Camden in Georgia will be decided in a special election on March 8, The Current reports.

Opponents of the spaceport gathered the signatures of more than 10 percent of the county’s registered voters to put the issue to a vote. Probate Judge Robert C. Sweatt Jr. issued an order verifying the referendum after the court determined that 3,516 valid voter signatures had been submitted. The requirement was 3,482 valid signatures.

Voters will be asked whether they want to repeal resolutions passed by the Camden County Board of Commissioners authorizing the purchase of property from Union Carbide Corporation that will be used for the spaceport.

Camden County has spent about $10 million in its effort to build a spaceport where small-satellite boosters would be launched a dozen times per year.

Supporters say the spaceport will bright much needed investment and jobs to the county. Opponents have labeled the project as an expensive boondoggle. Rockets would also fly over Cumberland Island National Seashore, which is open to the public. Homeowners along the route also worry about rockets damaging or destroying their residences.

FAA Again Delays Decision on Controversial Spaceport Camden Plan

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had again delayed a decision on the controversial Spaceport Camden project in Georgia due to ongoing consultation efforts. The agency’s moved its target date for issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) from Nov. 3 to Dec. 15. It’s the latest in a series of delays for a spaceport that Camden County officials have been attempting to develop for nine years.

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