Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett has denied a request from opponents of Spaceport Camden to restrain Camden County from purchasing land for the Georgia facility from Union Carbide. WABE radio reports:
The judge said the opponents waited until the last minute for their latest legal move, when they had known since 2015 that county commissioners planned to buy the property.
“Plaintiffs could have acted sooner but chose not to, and certainly did not act at their first opportunity,” Scarlett wrote in the order.
The ruling now allows the county to close on the property, barring unforeseen circumstances.
The Current reports that opponents filed an appeal of Scarlett’s decision with the Georgia Court of Appeals late Friday.
Opponents, who oppose the project on safety and financial grounds, had wanted the judge to prohibit the purchase of the land until Camden County residents could vote on whether to approve it in a referendum. They say they have collected enough signatures to put the question to a vote. Those signatures are now being verified.
Unlike other U.S. spaceports that are situated on the coast, Spaceport Camden would be located inland. Rockets launched from the facility would fly over Cumberland Island National Seashore, a federal protected wilderness used by tens of thousands of campers and tourists annually. People who own homes near the flight path fear that a launch accident could destroy their residences.
Despite safety concerns, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the Spaceport Camden project. The facility is being designed to host launch by small-satellite boosters. The FAA must still approve launch licenses for rockets that will fly from the spaceport.