Judge upholds cancellation of lease to commercialize Paulding County airport

Businessman appeals

A federal judge upheld the Paulding County Airport Authority’s decision to end its partnership with a company attempting to start commercial airline service from the Paulding County Airport.

The authority had the right to end its lease deal and land agreement with Propeller Investments’ Silver Comet Terminal Partners and Silver Comet Partners because none of the company’s promised development and expansion had come to fruition, according to a decision issued Friday by Judge William Ray out of the U.S. District Court in Rome.

The companies filed an appeal to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The Paulding airport authority and the Silver Comet companies struck a lease deal and land agreement in 2012 to allow the company to bring airline service to Paulding and eventually lease the entire terminal and large swaths of airport land.

Over the following six years, none of that had happened.

Instead, an anti-commercialization effort gained steam in Paulding County. By 2015 anti-commercialization residents were elected to the county commission. They passed a resolution opposing commercial passenger service at the Paulding airport and filed suit against the airport authority to challenge the commercialization effort, one of a number of lawsuits over the proposed airport expansion.

The relationship between the airport authority and the Silver Comet companies deteriorated. Little development happened, and they ended up fighting over the deal.

The airport authority in late 2018 exercised a right it had in the agreements to terminate the lease deal and land deal.

The two sides ended up in a four-day trail in U.S. District Court in Rome. While Silver Comet argued that the litigation between the county and the airport authority gave Paulding a reputation as “the county that was suing itself” and made it difficult to market the airport, the judge wrote that it was still reasonable for the airport authority to terminate the contract because marketing was “not reasonable or sufficient.”

The judge also rules that the airport authority had the right to terminate the terminal lease because airline service never started in Paulding County and Silver Comet had not leased the entire terminal as laid out in the agreement.