Roundup, MT Airport
Congratulations on what promises to be an excellent website resource for people affected by the FAA's extortion. I have a great of background and current litigation, and although I hate to unload this all at once I want to present some of my issues in order to facilitate better organization of them later.
First some thoughts -
Fighting the FAA's actions and illegal coercion seems to be top priority. I sued the FAA and local City/County together in State Court - finding ultimately that the FAA had to be dismissed due to a technical legal issue. So legal help for affected persons and their attorneys in the form of proper procedures would be of great benefit. Any damage or injury to the property or value of a person's property caused by FAA coercion must be recovered. Title 49 U.S.C. does not give the FAA the power to regulate the use of private property. The FAA issued a position statement in this regard concerning an airpark in Wisconsin (www.nmshtd.state.nm.us/upload/images/Aviation/FAA's%20Position%20on%20OSH.pdf). The FAA has only advisory capacity. If they attempt to withhold legal funding to coerce action on an issue they have no power to enforce, it would be regulation without legal authority. I have discussed this with AOPA's people without much success in the form of commitments to offer legal aid. I contacted the ACLU and was politely declined.
Getting the word out. I have suggested to AOPA that they provide some kind of forum in the magazine - a column or section that will attract the interest of large numbers of people who can contact their senators and congressmen and put pressure on the FAA.
Retaliation. There can be so many ways this can be fought - organizing boycotts of cities and towns that submit to FAA pressure, helping nearby residents band together and close airports that have harmed their TTF residents, blocking funding for airports that have harmed their TTF residents, etc.
Finally, my story is outlined as follows:
It started in 1982 when I verbally leased ground at the City/County airport in Roundup. I built a 40’x42’ metal building on the site, and paid an annual rent for the ground and property taxes on the building. In 1992, I again verbally leased ground adjacent to my building to install a modular (mobile) home. I purchased and installed the home, skirted it, installed a private sewer system (septic tank and drain field), water system (cistern), telephone and power service entirely at my own expense. I paid an annual rent for this site as well as property taxes for the home. In December 2001 the City/County board sent me a letter that an airport project was starting and my home had to be removed in 60 days. I had no alternative and no time or resources to fight this, so I sold the home at a huge loss, stored most of my personal effects in my building, and moved away. In the ensuing four or five years, as I sorted through what was left of my belongings and discarded or moved them, the City/County board attempted to deliberately defraud me into signing a new lease agreement [for the ground for my building] that they had secretly rewritten. Fortunately I read what I am about to sign and discovered the ruse. The board has since refused my annual rent payments. I continue to pay property taxes on the building. There is no sale for the building, which is empty and useless to me. My actual monetary losses, for the loss of my home, the costs and losses in the storage and moving of personal effects, and the loss of the use of my building amount to over $85,000. I investigated the issues and sued the City/County board, the FAA, and the Montana Aeronautics Commission in State court to recover my losses. The FAA was dismissed from the action due to a technicality. Discovery to date has revealed that the FAA was the principal instigator behind the wrongdoing against me by the City/County.
I have extensively researched the matter and downloaded the relevant U.S. Code, as well as obtained a wealth of information online from Federal, State, and private entities about the issues at hand. The issues that are paramount and relate to the FAA are:
- No dialog. In all its published materials, the FAA states it wants to pursue all complaints and issues openly and with discussion. I, or my attorney, have followed their dispute resolution process [first contacting their local office (Helena), then if no satisfaction their regional office (Seattle), and finally their headquarters in Washington DC] to the letter. We have received only one inconsequential response from Helena, and nothing else.
- No notification of project. Almost all my actual and consequential monetary damages stem from the FAA and its clients (City/County) not notifying "all affected persons" (me), as prescribed by Federal Law, in "the earliest planning stages" of any proposed project. The entities mentioned knew, at least two years prior to my eviction in 2002, of the proposed project and its potential severe effect on me. I was never notified or contacted in any way. As a result, I could not voice my opposition, protect my interests, or posture my future actions accordingly. Several alternatives would have been available to settle the issues without the substantial losses that I did incur, had I received timely notice.
- No relocation assistance. The D.O.T. (FAA) has statutory remedies provided for persons who lose their homes due to Federal projects. A $25,000 payment is provided by statute to offset the costs of moving. The agencies (FAA and City/County) knew of the statutory provision, knew I would be relocated, and did nothing to notify me of this benefit.
- Overstepping statutory authority. It is believed that the FAA deliberately coerced and intimidated the City/County into eliminating my home, probably through threatening or insinuating that the City/County would lose Federal Project funding if they did not act as the FAA wanted. The FAA has no authority in law to regulate land use or to seize property (as mine effectively has been). The FAA has only an advisory capacity in this regard. If they would be allowed to do this, it would be regulating without statutory authority.
- Human rights and discrimination. During the same time frame that my home was being eliminated in Roundup (2000-2002), there was a [mobile] home situated on another FAA-assisted airport nearby (Laurel). That mobile home is still there. The FAA’s argument that it doesn’t want residences on airports is unfairly, unjustly, and arbitrarily applied. I have been the victim or arbitrary discrimination.
So much for the "quiet enjoyment of my property" I am supposed to have under the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.
I want to help you in any way I can. It's surprising that the large, elaborate airparks in Afton and Payson, Arizona are not [yet] screaming about their imminent demise.
Doug L. Edman