A measure introduced in the Alabama legislature to strengthen private property rights has put the ability of the state's publicly owned, public-use airports at risk to acquire land to enhance airport safety. The proposed constitutional amendment would preserve this power, known as eminent domain, only for airport authorities formed by cities with a population of 300,000 or more residents. "As the bill stands now," said Owen Sweeney, AOPA manager of state and local government affairs, "the only airport authority in Alabama that would have eminent domain power is Birmingham. That protects only one airport out of about 90." AOPA is seeking to get the bill amended to ensure that all of the state's GA airports, regardless of the size of the city or type of governmental entity overseeing the airports, would retain their ability to operate safely, including needed space for safe approaches and extended runway protection zones.
March 3, 2006