Georgia Supreme Court ruling could be final blow for Spaceport Camden plans

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – The future of Spaceport Camden County is in jeopardy after a ruling by the state’s highest court. The Georgia Supreme Court upheld election results which saw voters overwhelmingly rejected the project.

Two out of three commissioners supported the project -- and argued that the state’s constitution does not give residents the right to veto decisions over county governments.

In its 47-page ruling, the court disagreed, saying that the state constitution --“Plainly grants repeal and amendment powers to the electorate” over county ordinances and resolutions.

READ: Past stories about Spaceport Camden

Commissioner Jim Goodman, who was not in favor of the project, said, “It’s a great day in Camden County for the people in this county whose voices were heard in the matter of stopping wasteful spending on a boondoggle spaceport.”

Goodman also said, “We have other things we need to spend money on. We have health and human concerns. We have infrastructure concerns. We need to develop viable economic interests for the county, industries, light industries.” Goodman goes on to say, “Whatever to bring jobs to this county. Space County is not where it’s at.”

The commissioners supporting the project released a statement saying the decision was discouraging to hear.

The statement read, “...the Camden County Board of Commissioners respects the difficult decision made by the Justices of the Georgia Supreme Court. Clearly, given the complexity of this decision on Home Rule and how it will impact local governments moving forward, this will be a matter that the General Assembly will need to address quickly to preserve the representative democracy we have in this great state.”

The commissioners have tried for more than a decade and spent roughly $12 million to make the spaceport a reality in the small coastal Georgia county.

They argued the project would boost tourism, bring jobs, and catapult the county’s scientific and technological profile.

Environmentalists with the local non-profit One Hundred Miles believe the spaceport would have been an environmental hazard. The group tells News4JAX in a statement: “The GA Supreme Court’s ruling shows that the Justices studied both sides’ arguments very carefully. They took the amount of time they needed to issue a decision that was fair and right according to the state Constitution and for the benefit of all Georgians.”

Critics, including the National Park Service, argued rockets exploding shortly after launch could pose a major threat to Little Cumberland Island and neighboring Cumberland Island. However, the commissioners said a study last year showed there wouldn’t be a threat.

News4JAX reached out to the Camden County Chairman.

He did not want to speak on camera but says the spaceport will be discussed at the next county commissioners meeting.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.