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December 8, 2012

Council to hire special L-3 counsel

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville and officials with the local L-3 facility may have resolved their legal differences for now, but they still need to reach a new agreement for the property the defense contractor leases at Majors Field Municipal Airport.

Those negotiations, as well as any other legal matters pending between the two sides, will likely not be handled by current City Attorney Brent A. Money.

The City Council is scheduled this week to consider hiring a special counsel to represent the City of Greenville on all matters relating to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems. An ordinance to that effect is up for a vote during Tuesday’s regular session, starting at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street. A work session is also scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Council is also set Tuesday to discuss the City Attorney position, as well as Majors Field Airport, under an executive session if necessary.

Mayor Steve Reid has asked for the vote on the ordinance to hire a special counsel.

In October the Council appointed Bob Scott as the city’s attorney in regards to the settlement negotiations with L-3.

Last month, attorneys for L-3 filed an agreed motion to dismiss its pending lawsuit, while at the same time attorneys for the city filed a motion to dismiss its appeal connected to the same suit.

The actions bring to a close almost two years of litigation between the City of Greenville and its largest employer, concerning a proposed replat of Majors Field Municipal Airport.

Under the agreement, the city and L-3 would enter into a separate agreement to resolve all existing claims between the two sides, after which L-3 would dismiss the pending lawsuits. The city would take no future action to subdivide the airport property without consulting with and obtaining the written approval of L-3.

The city also agreed that as long as L-3 operates the airport property, the city shall abide by the 1947 Surplus Property Act, the subject of the federal lawsuit filed by the company against the city and that the city would take no action to seek reconsideration of the airport’s property tax exemption.

The original suit L-3 filed in January 2011 against the city in the 354th District Court sought a temporary injunction based on a proposed replat of Majors Field Municipal Airport, remains pending an interlocutory appeal ruling from the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas.

In August 2011, the city filed an appeal of 354th District Court Judge Richard A. Beacom’s ruling that he had jurisdiction to preside over the dispute.

An item on Tuesday’s meeting agenda calls for an executive session under Local Government Code Section 551.074: City Attorney, which calls for a “meeting involving the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee or to hear complaints or charges against a public officer or employee.”

The Council is also scheduled to consider the airport under Section 551.072 of the Local Government Code, which allows for a “discussion with respect to the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property, when such discussions would have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the governmental body.”

Should the Council decide to take any action on any of the items discussed in executive session, it would return to the regular meeting in order to do so.

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