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Winder Mayor Says City has No Specific Plans for Property Recently Purchased

A local newspaper asserts the deal to purchase the Loganville Highway property was made in secret and violates the Georgia Open Meetings Act.

Winder Mayor David Maynard said there are no specific plans for the .45 acres off Loganville Highway that was recently purchased by the city. 

The Winder City Council ratified during its regular business meeting Tuesday, Sept. 11, a vote taken in an executive session May 17 to purchase the property for $20,000 and authorize the mayor to finalize the acquisition. The parcel of land was purchased from the Young Men’s Christian Association of Georgia’s Piedmont Inc. formerly known as Winder Barrow Brad Akins YMCA Inc.

"Our Water Department believes the site may be useful in the future, possibly for a pump station," Maynard wrote in an e-mail to Barrow Patch. 

In an online post Wednesday, Sept. 12, the Barrow Journal asserts the city of Winder cannot complete a land deal in secret and has asked for the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to render an opinion on the matter. The newspaper reports the city was advised by its attorney, John Stell, that the council’s purchases of real estate meet the provisions of the recently amended Georgia Open Meetings Act. Here is the text of a portion of that act governing which government meetings are open to the public addresses closed executive sessions regarding negotiations and contracts for property purchases: 

Subject to compliance with the other provisions of this chapter, executive sessions shall be permitted for: 
(1) Meetings when any agency is discussing or voting to: 
(A)  Authorize the settlement of any matter which may be properly discussed in executive session in accordance with paragraph (1) of Code Section 50-14-2; 
(B)  Authorize negotiations to purchase, dispose of or lease property; 
(C)  Authorize the ordering of an appraisal related to the acquisition or disposal of real estate; 
(D)  Enter into a contract to purchase, dispose of, or lease property subject to approval in a subsequent public vote; or 
(E)  Enter into an option to purchase, dispose of, or lease real estate subject to approval in subsequent public vote. 
No vote in executive session to acquire, dispose of, or lease real estate, or to settle litigation, claims, or administrative proceedings, shall be binding on an agency until a subsequent vote is taken in an open meeting where the identity of the property and the terms of the acquisition, disposal, or lease are disclosed before the vote or where the parties and principal settlement terms are disclosed before the vote; 

What do you think? Was the Winder City Council's closed executive session vote to acquire property and to authorize the mayor to finalize the acquisition legal? Tell us in comments. 

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Anom September 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Sounds like it was legal, maybe not binding.
Anom September 17, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Sounds "legal" to me, but probably not "binding" until done properly.
Penny Cooper September 17, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I think taxpayers should know where their monies are going,...period..

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