Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday that prevents Camden County for now from closing on the purchase of the 4,000-acre Union Carbide tract where it intends to build a spaceport.

The order also scheduled an interlocutory hearing on a permanent restraining order for the purchase for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5. Paul Harris and St. Marys council member James Goodman, who oppose the spaceport project as a waste of money, requested the restraining order on behalf of themselves and about 4,000 other county voters who signed a petition seeking a referendum on the purchase of the property.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued Spaceport Camden a site operator's license Monday. But without the property the project is defunct.

The county's option to buy the land from Union Carbide expires Jan. 13 unless it's extended, as it has been previously. The probate court has 90 days from the filing of the signed petitions on Dec. 14 to vet the signatures and hold a special election. Petitioners are seeking to delay the purchase until the vote can take place.

The Camden County-led spaceport project aims to launch small rockets from the former Union Carbide site on the marsh in the unincorporated county. The commercial rockets would lift off from the mainland and fly over nearby Cumberland Island National Seashore. Some elected and appointed public officials in Camden support the spaceport as a job creator for the mostly rural county of about 55,000.

Mary Landers is a reporter for Stanley R. Boxer in Coastal Georgia with more than two decades of experience focusing on the environment. Contact her at She covered climate and...