Dodge Commissioners Want to Block Land Sale | News
Correction: This story originally incorrectly described the land; it is not wetland.
Dodge County Commissioners want a Superior Court judge to stop a land sale that could cost them money and about 45-acres of land.
Located in Eastman, the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport Authority recently advertised the proposed sale in local newspaper. Bid openings and the sale are scheduled to take place Friday.
But in a called meeting Wednesday afternoon, the commissioners instructed County Attorney John Harrington to file a motion asking a judge to stop the sale.
Harrington said the motion would be filed by Thursday.
In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Eddie Driggers, chair of the airport authority, said the authority "is shocked by the Dodge County Commissioners to convene a special called meeting to impede a lawful action under unanimous HGRAA consent..."
Driggers said sale of the wetlands near the Ocmulgee
River has been on the authority's agenda for several months.
"Last year, we donated the County Commission part of the parcel they requested to construct a boat ramp for the citizens of Dodge County.."
The airport authority began the sale after state Rep. Jimmy Pruett, an Eastman Republican, pushed legislation through the Georgia General Assembly to abolish the airport authority and put all its assets and liabilities under the Dodge-Eastman Development Authority.
Some county commissioners said they fear the airport authority is trying to push the land sale through before the change is made. If that happens, they say, the county won't get its share of the sale.
They also say the wetlands were set aside to satisfy federal requirements. If it's sold, they say, the commission would have to buy more land to meet those requirements.
Chairman Dan McCranie said the commission needs to go to court to protect the county's interest.
"If the injunction doesn't happen the land is sold and those assets that the county paid for will be gone and we will lose that opportunity to use wetland credits in the future," McCranie said.
County Commissioner Terr Niblett also serves on the airport authority. Niblett abstained from the commission because of that dual role.
He also said he wasn't present when the airport authority vote to sale the land. But Niblett said financial situations may have prompted that decision.
"Well, there was talk of cash flow being low and possibly selling some assets to cover operating bits, everyday operations," Niblett said.
In his news release, Driggers said, "The monetary proceeds for the land sale is needed to fund our participatory share in GDOT projects currently underway at the airport. HGRA has a failed Glideslope transmitter at the airfield and failing lighting systems that are affecting the safe operation of the flight students operating at Middle Georgia State College at the airport."
The bill abolishing the airport authority has been sent Gov. Nathan Deal for his consideration.
If the governor signs the legislation, the airport authority would be abolished immediately.