A split Greenville City Council voted Tuesday to approve a non-disclosure agreement with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems.
The vote came prior to negotiations starting on a new lease agreement for the defense contractor at Majors Field Municipal Airport.
Council member Dan Perkins voted against the measure, because it leaves the majority of the Council and city staff members he believed would be key to the negotiations out of the initial phases of the process.
Mayor Steve Reid said the agreement was a move to help build a feeling of trust with L-3 and noted the entire Council would be briefed if and when it would be time to consider whether to approve any lease.
Last month, the Council voted to grant a professional services agreement with Taylor Olson Adkins Sralla Elam for legal matters with respect to the airport lease.
The airport covers approximately 1,500 acres. L-3 leases much of the airport property from the City of Greenville, with the original lease agreement reached in 1977. The lease agreement is up in 2017.
The Council passed an ordinance Tuesday “approving a non-disclosure agreement with L-3 Communications governing the negotiation of a new lease for Greenville Municipal Airport -Majors Field.
According to the language in the ordinance, during the lease negotiations the two parties will be exchanging information that is “considered highly sensitive and confidential.”
City Attorney Daniel Ray said L-3 was seeking the agreement due to issues of not only national security, but also to protect certain financial details from other defense contractors, “looking for ways to create a competitive advantage by using that information.”
The agreement would allow the current L-3 Committee of the Council — made up of Reid, Jeffrey Dailey and Dr. Joe Perks — to be privy to the initial phase of the negotiations, alongside the attorneys from Taylor Olson.
Once a proposed lease agreement is drafted, it would then be presented to the entire Council, likely in executive session, before a vote would be scheduled.
Perkins said the non-disclosure agreement also would exclude Public Works Director Massoud Ebrahim, who Perkins said has a great deal of experience in helping oversee the operations of the airport.
But Dailey responded that Perkins was part of an earlier L-3 committee, alongside former Mayor Tom Oliver and former Council member Bryan Herrin, who worked alongside the Jackson Walker law firm in drafting a previous proposed lease agreement.
The vote was 4-2 in favor of approving the non-disclosure agreement, with Perkins and Del Bosque-Hobdy against.