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Earth Management, Inc. v. Heard County

Citation: 12 ELR 20347
No. No. 37303, 283 S.E.2d 455/16 ERC 1720/248 Ga. 442, (Ga., 10/27/1981)

The court holds that a county's condemnation of land for use as a public park with the unstated purpose of preventing construction of a hazardous waste disposal facility on the site is a bad faith exercise of eminent domain authority. Initially, the court rules that completion of the special master's work does not moot an appeal contesting the propriety of the proceeding. It declines to consider whether the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Act preempts the exercise of eminent domain authority, finding the Act inapplicable since appellant as yet holds no permit issued under its provisions. The court further holds that entry of judgment on the special master's award without prior notice to appellant was not a deprivation of due process since appellant was subsequently given a hearing on all issues. Finally, although a state may condemn private property, the condemnation must be for a public purpose and the condemning authority may not act in bad faith. The court finds that the proposed use of the condemned land as a public park was clearly for a public purpose, but that the county's true reason for instituting the condemnation proceeding was to prevent the construction of a hazardous waste facility. It holds that such action is beyond the power conferred on the county by law and amounts to bad faith.

Counsel for Appellant
Conley Ingram, Robert D. McCallum Jr., James S. Stokes IV, Nill V. Toulme
Alston, Miller & Gaines
1200 C & S Nat'l Bank Bldg., Atlanta GA 30335
(404) 586-1500

Counsel for Appellee
Thurman E. Duncan
Duncan, Thomasson & Mallory
18 N. Lafayette Sq., La Grange GA 30240
(404) 882-7731

Robert S. Dennis
P.O. Box 343, Franklin GA 30217
(404) 675-3039

All the Justices concur, except WELTNER, J., not participating.