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Squawks & HeadlinesBoulder presses on airport eminent domain despite federal changes

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Boulder presses on airport eminent domain despite federal changes

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The lawsuit seeks to force Barnow, 66, to sell either his property at 5864 Rustic Knolls Drive or the rights to his "through-the-fence agreement" that gives him permission to taxi a plane directly onto the adjacent Boulder Municipal Airport runway. (www.dailycamera.com) More...

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AreThree
AreThree 2
I know it's bad form to comment on your own posts, but this city (Boulder, CO) has really had some very poor eminent domain cases recently and they have all reeked of shady underhanded dealings. I know it's just a small, light use airstrip and, OK, the guy has to have a bit of money to live where he does and taxi onto his property ... but I have always wanted to be able to do what he does. I really hope this gets worked out because who knows what precedent this may set... and it doesn't look good for private land owners.
dvbavcon
Dean Brossman 1
I can guarantee that this guys property is worth more than $350,000. I would hate to see another case of the city taking someone's property for no good reason. This guy and his family is still going to be out lawyers fees if he wins or not.
rootuser
Root User 1
I always thought the "eminent domain" argument was only valid when the property was preventing an improvement for the greater public good. The city is arguing a federal funding loss which I don't think would fall under the same description, in fact Bush's 2006 executive order also limited eminent domain action, to exclude it's use for private parties gain.
dvbavcon
Dean Brossman 1
I can guarantee that this guys property is worth more than $350,000. I would hate to see another case of the city taking someone's property for no good reason. This guy and his family are still going to be out lawyers fees if he wins or not.
slgordon3
slgordon3 1
It's a tough case, from a general fairness perspective. On the one hand, should the city be able to yank the easement right out from under this guy? That doesn't seem fair. On the other hand, should he have essentially free VIP access to the airport? That doesn't seem fair either. Personally my inclination is to just leave well enough alone in circumstances like this, but that's not how local governments works (especially in Boulder!).
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
Hard to acertain all the facts (is it now fenced? gated? etc). Sounds like the city just doesn't want to pay for the forefathers agreements or abide by them either one. Peon elected officials throwing their government weight around. Doing what is right probably doesn't enter their minds.
AreThree
AreThree 1
If you have the Google Earth plugin, this is the link to what the property looks like:
http://g.co/maps/py2ut
It doesn't look very fancy, and looks like a dirt road leading to a shed-type hangar. I can't see a million dollars worth of improvements there, at all. The imagery might be a bit dated, but I have been around that curve there on 57th street numerous times and looks just like that. Rural, dirt road, middle of nowhere...
marcuccione
If the airport took grant money from the FAA they may be violating grant assurances. Faa advisory circulars for airports are the 150 series and can be found at http://www.faa.gov/airports/resources/advisory_circulars/index.cfm
RRKen
SCOTUS has narrowed, not expanded the 'taking clause' of the Fifth Amendment. (The case, Kelo v. City of New London; turned for the worst as the developer failed to get financing, and now the property in question is a city dump)

Key with Boulder, is the value of the property, not to the City, but the owner. The Fifth requires "just compensation". But before that, Boulder must prove to the court that there is genuine public purpose. We don't know every detail, but from the article I don't see any.

Any lawyers in the crowd?
linbb
Boyd Butler 1
I think that your comment is over the top with the VIP statement. He didnt get special treatment because he was a high roller just another person who wanted to have his airplane at home. He was where he was before the airport changed and was allowed access to it. No special treatment, others would have been granted the same if they needed it back then also. Its another bad government decision,the Bama admin will support it as they would like to get rid of all general avation.
linbb
Boyd Butler 1
Sounds like the Bama admin is changing the rules so they can take whatever they want does not supprise me either thats the way that party operates.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
Im sure your right about it not being worth a million dollars. But it is his. If they want it and are willing to pay, it wouldn't be the first time the government ever overpaid. The big question is "why do they need it?". I'll bet 99% of the taxpayers could care less.
AreThree
AreThree 1
The FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act states that general aviation airports are not in violation of a grant assurance "solely because the sponsor enters into an agreement that grants to a person that owns residential real property adjacent to or near the airport access to the airfield."

Since that wording is in the bill, it seems to me that the city is proceeding with the lawsuit with questionable motives. The reason I pointed it out here, actually, is that this is yet the most recent local "eminent domain" fiasco in a string of many. The last one, in my neighborhood in fact, had to do with an empty lot, a fence, a trail, and the maintenance of that trail and fence. I will need to look up the details, but the settlement stank of back-room dealings and an "old-boy network" as it found for an ex-judge, if I recall correctly, or someone with close ties to city politics. The resulting judgement was far from fair in the view of many and I hope that case has been appealed.

In any case, why they are suddenly concerned about this now is quite beyond me, other than the fact that the aforementioned bill was signed into law on February 14.

The airport is far from a busy one and is quite small. It has no tower and the main use (at least in the summer) is for the local glider company to tow gliders into the foothills for hours on end (as well as some basic flying school and endless touch-and-gos). I could maybe understand concerns about safety and security if it were a more important and larger facility such as JeffCo, or Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport as it is now called... (KBJC).

I guess I worry that a legal settlement here that forces someone to give up their access from their property could create a precedent for all small airports throughout the nation... much diminishing what I like to think of as the hobbyist flier or someone so enthralled with flying that they bought property (at an assuredly inflated price) adjacent to an airfield so that they may enjoy the freedom of flying anytime they choose.
slgordon3
slgordon3 1
Just to clarify, i think that this guy has nothing more than a driveway and i don't think he's a VIP. Personally it doesn't bother me in the slightest that this guy has his easement. I'm just saying i can understand both sides of the debate. I say just leave well enough alone. Sorry if i wasn't clear.
AreThree
AreThree 1
I think maybe I didn't make myself clear, in the article it says:
"The city has said that providing safe access from Barnow's property to the runway would require construction of a taxiway at a cost of at least $1 million. Barnow said he's fine with making improvements, but he said that creating safe access is possible by installing inexpensive concrete cinderblocks from his property to the nearby runway.

"A couple of concrete blocks set into the dirt, I wouldn't think is a million dollars," Barnow said. "

What I meant is that I can't see spending that amount of money at all to provide "safe access" ... his access now isn't safe? It just sounds like a sum the city threw out there in order to muscle him into selling. But that's just my cynical two cents.
WALLACE24
WALLACE24 1
Yes, alterior motives are probably in play. Safety is just a ruse. I thought the homeowner thought his property was worth a million too. Regardless, contracts are fast becoming a waste of paper.