AOPA calls on New York attorney general to protect airport

November 14, 2003

Eliot Spitzer
Office of the Attorney General
State Capital
Albany, New York 12224
Fax: (518) 402-2271

RE: Reversionary Interest 6.294 acres adjacent to Republic Airport Farmingdale, New York

Dear Attorney General:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is the world's largest aviation association consisting of more than 400,000 members nationwide. Our membership has expressed to us their concern that a proposed commercial development located within the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) for Republic Airport will have a detrimental effect and raises serious safety concerns. There is an opportunity for the state's involvement in this matter and we request your consideration of this case.

In August 2003, the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Babylon, New York, approved a variance to allow Stew Leonard's Farm Market and Avilas, Inc., to construct commercial buildings within the RPZ at Republic Airport, Farmingdale, New York. Only later was it discovered that of the 18 acres slated for development; 6.294 acres were subject to state of New York reversionary interests.

Republic Airport is owned by the state of New York. As a condition of accepting federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds, the state has agreed to exercise all possible means to ensure that use of land adjacent to the airport is compatible with normal airport operations and to protect the visual and instrument approaches to the airport. The location of this development in such close proximity to the airport and in the direct approach path could result in higher instrument approach minimums rendering the airport less viable in limited weather situations and overall significantly reduce a pilot's options for a safe area of open space in the event of an emergency.

By way of background information, on August 12, 1977, the state of New York conveyed 6.294 acres of this land to Fairchild Industries, Inc. (now apparently part of the Fairchild Corporation), with the following conditions:

"This conveyance is made upon the express condition that the above described premises shall be continued in its present use as a sump for the collection of drain waters and for no other use and in the event that the guarantee or its successor or assigns, shall at any time violate or fail to comply with the said condition that the premises be used as a sump for the collection of drain waters and for no other use, then, in any such event, title to the above described premises shall immediately revert to The People of the State of New York without further action."

It is our understanding that Marie A. Corrado, Associate Attorney, Department of Transportation, State of New York submitted a letter to Henry De Cotis, Assistant Attorney General in Charge, Real Estate Division, and New York State Department of Law on October 15, 2003.

In part, Ms. Corrado stated: " This property is no longer used as a sump. It is located within an area defined in Federal Aviation Administration guidelines as a Runway Protection Zone, within which the State of New York is obligated to exercise whatever authority it may have to control development to ensure the safety of the flying public and persons on the ground. As such, it is critically important that State's ownership of the property be clarified."

In addition, Ms. Corrado requested Mr. De Cotis take the necessary action to protect the interest of the state in this matter including suggesting a personal appearance in an "order to show cause" hearing before Judge William L. Underwood Jr., Supreme Court State of New York, Suffolk County on Monday, November 17, 2003 at 9:30am, in the matter of Long Island Business Aviation Association vs. Stew Leonard's et al.

We believe very strongly that counsel for the state of New York must appear at this hearing to protect the interests of the state and the state-owned airport.

Sincerely,

Bill Dunn
Vice President
Airports

cc: Paul A. Lange, Esq.
Hugh Jones, Airport Director Republic Airport
S.F. Lewis, Director, Passenger Transportation Division
Long Island Business Aviation Association

November 14, 2003