The resounding vote in Henry County sending the proposed city of Eagle’s Landing crashing to earth means a little less is on the dockets of the Georgia Supreme Court and U.S. Northern District Judge Leigh Martin May, where challenges to the would-be burg are now presumably moot.
Voters overwhelmingly disapproved the new city Tuesday, with 4,289 voters—more than 57 percent—of those who would have lived in Eagle’s Landing opposing its creation.
Voters in the impacted areas of Stockbridge and McDonough, both of which would lose property to the new city were even more forceful: 859 Stockbridge voters—70.8 percent—said “no” to the annexation, as did 106 McDonough voters, representing 66.2 percent of the eligible electorate there.
In the wake of legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor earlier this year, Eagle’s Landing would have annexed a hefty and profitable portion of Stockbridge; portions of McDonough also would have been annexed.
The controversial legislation called for a referendum on the measure, but only those within the proposed city and areas targeted for annexation were allowed to vote.
Another federal lawsuit filed by Capital One Public Funding, which underwrote about $12 million in bonds for Stockbridge several years ago, also challenged the new city, arguing that it would dramatically undercut Stockbridge’s ability to service its debt.
Both the Supreme Court and May declined to halt the referendum.
Stockbridge’s lawyers include Balch & Bingham partners Christopher Anulewicz and Michael Bowers, as well as Bob Wilson, Stephen Quinn and Michael Williams of Decatur’s Wilson, Morton & Downs.
In an email, Anulewicz hailed the vote’s outcome.
“The city of Eagle’s Landing referendum sought to divide and financially decimate the City of Stockbridge and its citizens for highly questionable purposes,” he said.
“Ultimately, the citizens who were allowed to vote wisely rejected the Eagle’s Landing referendum by a substantial majority and in so doing validated Stockbridge’s position that the referendum was divisive and ruinous,” Anulewicz said.
The vote “will likely lead to the resolution of all the ongoing litigations Stockbridge has taken to fight these bills once the referendum is certified,” he said.
Lawyers for the other parties did offer any comment on Wednesday.
Capital One’s counsel includes David Balser, Letitia McDonald, Lawrence Slovensky and Lohr Beck-Kemp of King & Spalding.
The defendants in the city of Stockbridge’s litigation, the members of the Henry County Board of Elections, are represented by W. Thomas Lacy and Richard Lindsey of Lindsey & Lacy in Peachtree City.
They are joined defending the Capital One litigation by Patrick Jaugstetter of McDonough’s Power, Jaugstetter & Futch; Thompson Kurrie, Jr., Timothy Tanner Jr. and Emily Macheski-Preston of Coleman Talley; and Cristina Correia with the office of Attorney General Chris Carr.
Tanner said via email that the issue was resolved at it should have been from the outset.
“It was a pleasure to represent our clients and advance the legal case for the creation of the City of Eagle’s Landing,” Tanner said. “However, as we argued in opposition to the various attempts to enjoin the election, the decision to create the City of Eagle’s Landing should be made at the ballot box and not in a courtroom. It was decided in that manner on Tuesday.”