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AOPA tells Pompano Beach, Fla., it must protect its airportAOPA tells Pompano Beach, Fla., it must protect its airport

Mr. C. William Hargett Jr.
City Manager
City of Pompano Beach
100 West Atlantic Bl.
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Dear Mr. Hargett:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is a nonprofit membership association consisting of over 389,000 pilots and aircraft owners nationwide, over 28,000 of whom reside in the state of Florida. AOPA is committed to ensuring the continued viability, growth, and development of aviation and airports in Florida and the United States. These airports are a vital and critical component of a national transportation system.

This letter serves as our comments to and strong opposition of the proposed Ocean Heights development project being advanced by Mr. George Rethati and Beach Colony Corporation. The project, located at 1100 North Ocean Bl. in Pompano Beach, Florida, would have a significant and detrimental impact on the Pompano Beach Airpark (PMP) airport by reducing safety and utility of the airport.

With only 11 months worth of operational data currently available for review for 2002, activity at the airport exceeded 199,000 operations. This number continues to increase. And, with over 245-based aircraft, the Pompano Beach Airpark is a tremendous asset not only to the city, but to Broward County's economy as well. The full and unbridled utility of this key aviation transportation facility must be protected and maintained. In fact, the city is under a legal obligation to the federal government to do just that.

On August 29, 1947, the federal government acting through the War Assets Administrator and under authority of the Surplus Property Act of 1944 transferred ownership of the property now known as the Pompano Beach Airpark to the city of Pompano Beach, Florida. Subsequent to the original transfer Quitclaim Deed, a "correctional" Deed and a "supplemental" Deed were issued which made minor clarifications to the original 1947 Quitclaim Deed.

This conveyance of ownership to the city contained a number of restrictions on the property. The Quitclaim Deed in relevant part states:

"By the acceptance of this deed or any rights hereunder...for itself, its successors and assigns agrees that transfer of the property transferred by this instrument, is accepted subject to the following restrictions set forth in subparagraphs (1) and (2) of this paragraph, which shall run with the land...."

Under paragraph 2 (referenced above) of the Quitclaim Deed, additional terms and covenants with the federal government are defined. In relevant part, the deed states:

"By acceptance of this deed or any rights hereunder, the said party...for itself, its successors and assigns, also assumes the obligation of, covenants to abide by and agreed to, and this transfer is made subject to, the following reservations and restrictions set forth in subparagraphs (1) to (6) of this paragraph, which shall run with the land, imposed pursuant to the authority of Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States...the Surplus Property Act of 1944, as amended, Executive Order 9639 and applicable rules, regulations and orders:"

Of the 6 covenants, the one with the most relevance in this issue actually appears as number 1 in the Quitclaim Deed. This would be indicative of the importance of this covenant.

"(1) That insofar as is within its power and reasonably possible, the part of the second part and all subsequent transferees shall prevent any use of land either within or outside the boundaries of the airport, including the construction, erection, alteration, or growth of any structure or other object thereon, which use would be a hazard to the landing, taking-off, or maneuvering of aircraft at the airport, or otherwise limit its usefulness as an airport." [emphasis added]

The Supplemental Quitclaim Deed, dated June 24, 1948, changed the above paragraph slightly. The wording of the Supplemental stated in relevant part:

"(1) that insofar as it is within its powers, the party of the second part 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]

Penalties for breach of these covenants are defined within the deed. They include the full reversion of all conveyed property to the federal government.

In April and June of 2002, city administration submitted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 7480's Notice of Landing Area Proposal to FAA seeking an agency approval for a number of changes to the configuration of the Pompano Beach Airpark. Summarized, he requests included:

  • Changes to traffic pattern direction of flight
  • Changes to the instrument flight rules Circling Approach Minimum Descent Altitude to Runway 15 and 33
  • Cancellation of an existing Global Positioning Satellite Instrument approach to Runway 33
  • Changes to Take-off minimums for Runway 15
  • Changes to Take-off minimums for Runway 10

In each of these cases, the FAA has issued a "Determination of Hazard" indicating that such changes would "adversely affect the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace and safety of persons and property on the ground."

However, we are informed that the project proponent continues to attempt to find ways of "bending" the FAA's arms to issue a finding of "no hazard." This is totally unacceptable to the Association and our members.

The city of Pompano Beach entered into a contract with the federal government when it accepted possession of the airport. 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. 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.

AOPA and our members strongly oppose actions that would diminish or reduce safety at Pompano Beach Airpark. Clearly, approval of the Ocean Park development falls into this category. We ask you to hold firm and honor the obligations of the 1947 Quitclaim Deed and resist the urge to allow development that will clearly have a negative impact on this vital airport facility. These changes would also have a detrimental impact on surrounding airports as well.

I would be willing to meet with you to discuss this matter further should you believe such a meeting would be productive. I will contact you in the next week to further discuss our opposition to this project or you may reach me at 301-695-2205 or by e-mail.

Sincerely,

Bill Dunn
Vice President
Regional Affairs

Cc: Honorable William Griffin, Mayor
Mr. Herb Skolnick, Vice Mayor
Mr. Lamar Fisher, Commissioner
Ms. Kay McGinn, Commissioner
Mr. Ed Phillips, Commissioner

Mr. Robert Chapman, Manager
FAA Southern Region Airports Division

Mr. W. Dean Stringer
FAA Orlando Airport District Office

Mr. William Ashbaker
State Aviation Manager
Florida Department of Transportation

January 3, 2003

Topics: Safety and Education, Pilots

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