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.