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DDA files court petition


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  Amid speculation that Stockbridge might file a court action against its own Downtown Development Authority, the DDA struck first with a filing Friday in Henry County Superior Court.

  The DDA filed a petition “to determine the answers to some legal questions,” according to a written statement released that day by DDA chairman J.T. Williams.

  This is the latest in a series of actions by both sides in the wake of the changing administration at City Hall.

  One of the first moves made by new mayor Tim Thompson and the 2014 council, which has two new members, was to send the DDA a cease-and-desist letter, taking the position that the organization was improperly reassembled in 2013 and legally does not exist. It was referred to by some council members and the city attorney as the “alleged DDA” at a recent council meeting.

  That is precisely the issue the DDA wants to clear up and the primary motivation for the court filing, which preempts any action by the city. The council has met in executive session recently to discuss possible legal action regarding the DDA but has made no public announcement to that effect.

  Williams said Monday that the legal status of the DDA itself is the primary issue behind the court petition, and to confirm various agreements entered into with the city last year.

  “This is only relating to the DDA and the city,” he said of the court action.

  In Friday’s statement Williams said, “The new city attorney has a different legal conclusion than the prior city attorney and the DDA attorney on some substantive issues that is hampering the DDA from fulfilling its mission of economic development within the downtown district of Stock-bridge.”

  He went on to point out the need for continued work to create jobs in the city, citing an unemployment rate in Stockbridge of 10.1 percent, which he said is 42 percent higher than the state average.

  “That makes it imperative that we do everything possible to help existing businesses expand and new businesses move to Stockbridge,” he said. “As soon as the judge provides clarity to certain legal questions, we look forward to working with the mayor and City Council for the betterment of our community and to secure jobs for our citizens.”

  Williams said Monday that he expects the case to be assigned to a specific judge early this week. While he thinks the case will take some time to be resolved, he does not know if it prevents the city from filing its own legal action.

“I think it probably covers the same issues they want covered,” he said. “But I’m not sure.”



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