By Monroe Roark
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
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
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
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.”