Paulding airport authority votes to terminate lease with developer

The Paulding County Airport Authority has voted to terminate a lease with a development partner that sought to commercialize the airportand expand it.

The airport authority's action — voting Wednesday to send a termination notice to Silver Comet Terminal Partners LLC — adds to a dispute over the lease that is already in court.

Silver Comet launched an effort to commercialize the county's airport and attract airline flights more than five years ago. But a series of lawsuits by Paulding residents, the city of Atlanta, the county and others stalled the commercialization effort, and the Federal Aviation Administration halted its consideration of the airport authority's application earlier this year.

The airport authority has had a lease agreement with Silver Comet Terminal Partners, a subsidiary of Propeller Airports LLC, since 2012. It obligated the airport authority to "use its best efforts" seek commercial certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Under the agreement, Silver Comet had a right to expand and occupy the entire airport terminal. But, because it did not exercise that right by a Dec. 1 deadline and there is no commercial passenger service at the airport, the airport authority had the right to terminate the lease.

It’s yet to be seen how Silver Comet will respond to the airport authority lease termination move.

Silver Comet has already filed a lawsuit against the Paulding airport authority alleging the authority breached its contract and had concealed plans for an aviation academy announced by Gov. Nathan Deal in October.

The suit filed last month alleges the airport authority wanted to terminate Silver Comet’s lease option rights because it was acting “in collaboration with the Paulding County Commission to prevent commercial passenger service at the Paulding County Airport.”

That, according to Silver Comet, breaches the airport authority’s obligation in the lease agreement.

At issue in the suit are two contracts — the terminal lease and a Silver Comet lease option for land surrounding the airport that the airport authority previously moved to terminate. The option lease was struck in 2012 for up to 60 acres of land around the Paulding airport, with the idea of attracting companies to the site.

In the suit, Silver Comet is seeking to recover its fees and expenses, and says in the lawsuit that the projected value of the Paulding airport with commercial passenger service “was estimated to be greater than $200 million.”