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Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Katie Leslie; Staff

A group of English Avenue and Vine City residents are appealing a Fulton County Superior Court judge's approval of Atlanta's plans to partially finance the new Falcons stadium.

The appeal --- filed Thursday --- comes just weeks after Judge Ural Glanville rejected the group's attempts to stop the city from issuing bonds worth more than $200 million, with hundreds of millions more in hotel-motel tax revenue allocated to fund stadium operations and maintenance over 30 years.

The move is the latest wrinkle in the city's controversial decision to help finance the new stadium and effectively halts the bond issuance until it's resolved.

Officials from Mayor Kasim Reed's administration said they had not yet received a copy of the appeal and thus declined comment. A spokesman for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, also a plaintiff in the case, also declined comment Friday.

The Rev. William Cottrell, Mamie Lee Moore, Tracy Bates, Joe Beasley and John H. Lewis III filed the initial legal challenge in February. The group, represented by attorneys John Woodham and retired Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore, alleged numerous legal flaws in the stadium financing plan and asked that it be declared unconstitutional.

Woodham declined an interview request Friday.

Among the complaints, the group believes the 2010 state law authorizing extension of the existing Atlanta hotel-motel tax for the purpose of replacing the Georgia Dome is unconstitutional because it morphed a "general law" with statewide applicability into a "special law" applying only to one situation.

But Glanville ruled against their objections last month, clearing the way for the city and Invest Atlanta, its economic development agency, to move forward with the bond issuance.

City officials have said that could happen as early as this summer. It's unclear how or if the appeal affects the stadium timeline. The retractable roof stadium is set to open in 2017.

The appeal comes weeks after the Atlanta Falcons celebrated an official groundbreaking of the stadium off Martin Luther King Jr. and Northside Drives, though construction began in earnest several months ago.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has previously said the challenge to the bond issue involves Atlanta and GWCCA officials, but not the team.

"We are observers to it, and we feel like it's a process that has to play out and will play out, " Blank said in April.


June 7, 2014




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