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Wed, Aug 17, 2011

Naples, FL Citizens' Group Says Local Government Should Control Airport Land

Disputes FAA Jurisdiction Over Airport Property

A citizens' group in Naples, FL, says the local government should be able to control zoning on airport land that belongs to the city and is leased by the Naples Airport Authority (NAA). The FAA and NAA, however, feel differently.

The group calling its self The Citizens Against Runway Extension, LLC (CARE) formed to try to block the extension of a runway at Naples Airport (KAPF). That effort was unsuccessful, but now the group is lobbying the Mayor and City Council to “defend the citizens against the Naples Airport Authority’s and the FAA's claims that the City is preempted by Federal law from controlling land use through zoning of the City’s airport property.”

Naplesnews.com reports that the group made that statement in a letter to city officials after a June 15th council meeting in which the city attorney said the city has no jurisdiction over the runway extension project, nor does it control the zoning at the airport despite city ownership of the land. In its letter, CARE says that the city had taken the opposite stance in 2003, showing the FAA that the city had retained those rights, as well as the right to change zoning ordinances at any time.

The letter goes on to state the FAA contends that, in a decision in May concerning another airport, the city of Naples reversed its self and did not dispute the authority of the NAA to control airport land. 

Ted Soliday, the airport's Executive Director, told naplesnews.com that the CARE letter is "loaded with misrepresentations and statements." He said the group takes pieces of the airport lease and quotes them out of context "which makes you think one thing as long as you don't read the rest of the lease." He said nothing in the CARE letter is true, and it is just an attempt on the part of the group to "get the public angry."

Mayor Bill Barnett said that the letter would be treated like any other citizen inquiry. It would be forwarded to the correct department, which would be charged with crafting a response.

FMI: www.naplesgov.com, http://betternaplesairport.org

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