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Thu, Jan 09, 2003

AOPA Tells Pompano Beach, 'Can't Do That!'

40-Story Condo Impinges on Airspace

The AOPA says that Pompano Beach (FL) is in danger of violating a contract with the federal government unless it takes steps to prevent construction of a proposed 40-story condominium adjacent to Pompano Beach Airpark (PMP). The FAA has ruled the Ocean Heights development project a "hazard to air navigation," and AOPA has strongly advised the city to stop the project.

"Pompano Beach Airpark is an immensely popular general aviation airport," said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn. "Any of the changes proposed for the airport to accommodate the condo project would have a negative effect on pilots' ability to use the airport."

AOPA strongly opposes the development project and has sent a sharply worded letter to Pompano Beach City Manager C. William Hargett, Jr. In the letter, Dunn reminded Hargett that the city has no choice but to protect the airport against the Ocean Heights project, no matter how much the city would like to see the project go forward.

The federal government declared the airport war surplus after World War II, and turned it over to the city in 1947, with strings attached. The deed awarding the Pompano Beach Airpark to the city said, in part, that Pompano Beach "shall adequately clear and protect the aerial approaches to the airport by removing, lowering, relocating, marking, or lighting or otherwise mitigating existing airport hazards and by preventing the establishment or creation of future hazards [emphasis added]."

After being told by the FAA that the project posed a hazard, the developers, George Rethati and the Beach Colony Corporation, tried several backdoor methods to convince the FAA to rule in favor of the project, including petitions to change the traffic pattern and traffic pattern altitude, and to change or eliminate a number of instrument approach procedures and minimum weather standards for the airport.

"The city of Pompano Beach entered into a contract with the federal government when it accepted possession of the airport," said Dunn in the letter. "That contract very specifically requires the city to protect the airport and prevent any development that would compromise the utility and safety of the airport."

Dunn continued, "City administration approval of the Ocean Heights project is completely inconsistent and in our opinion, a direct breach of your contract with the federal government."

Pompano Beach Airpark is home to more than 245 based aircraft, and during the first eleven months of 2002 had more than 199,000 operations.

FMI: www.aopa.org

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