Land deal case in Forsyth heads to Ga. Supreme Court

Case first to test revamped Open Meetings Act

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CUMMING, Ga. — After Forsyth County Superior Court rejected her land injunction case against the city of Cumming, a camera-wielding activist has taken her Open Meetings Act case to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Nydia Tisdale is appealing the Forsyth County Court decision in March of this year to allow a $1.9 million land deal by the city of Cumming stand.

Tisdale, a Roswell resident and AboutForsyth.com blogger, argued the 77-acre land transaction off Pilgrim Mill Road was illegal because the deed recording the sale was filed the day before it was approved. The council’s vote took place April 17, 2012, the same day Tisdale was ordered to stop video recording the meeting. This was also the same day Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 397 updating the Open Meetings Act.

In March 2013, Forsyth County Superior Court heard arguments that the land purchase – Pilgrim Ridge subdivision – approved during that same meeting was illegal. Tisdale says the deed recording the sale was filed one day before the City Council voted to approve it in open session. The judge has ruled the sale should stand.

Tisdale filed a motion to have the judge reconsider. She claims the open meetings violation makes the meeting and any action taken during the April 17, 2012 meeting void because it violates the Open Meetings Act. The city attorney says the city has done nothing improper.

The state’s Supreme Court will hear Tisdale’s land deal case arguments in September – marking the first test of the state’s new Open Meetings Act.

A separate federal lawsuit was filed by Tisdale in June 2012 seeking punitive damages, and a state suit was filed by Attorney General Sam Olens. Both lawsuits accuse Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt of the open meetings violation for banning Tisdale from videotaping the meeting.

A date for Olens v. Gravitt was supposed to take place April 17 in Forsyth County Superior Court, but was rescheduled — a new date has not been set.