Ruling From The 2nd Circuit Ends Pending Legal Challenges To
Panama City Relocation Effort
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit, denied a pending petition, May 1st, for review
of the FAA's Record of Decision approving the relocation of the
Panama City – Bay County International Airport to a new site
in West Bay, Florida.
The National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife
and Friends of PFN argued against the FAA and Airport on January
23, 2008. The court ruling denying the petition for review ends all
pending legal challenges to the airport relocation, absent a
petition for rehearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new airport is currently under construction and is 55%
complete. The Panama City – Bay County Airport and Industrial
Board's current schedule anticipates a May 2010 opening for the
first international airport built in the United States since Denver
International Airport was completed in 1995.
The airport is being built on 4,000 acres donated by The St. Joe
Company and is part the West Bay Sector Plan, a 75,000-acre
regional planning effort, one of the largest ever in Florida.
The West Bay Sector Plan includes 41,000 acres of conservation
land. Already approximately 10,000 acres have been permanently
protected through an irrevocable conservation easement to the State
of Florida as a result of the relocation of the airport.
Ultimately, 33 miles of undeveloped West Bay shoreline and an
additional 44 miles of creeks and tributaries that feed the bay
will be protected forever.
“We are very grateful to the Court for its conscientious
consideration of the case,” said Airport Authority Vice
Chairman Bill Cramer. “I do not believe that a petition for
rehearing or appeal will be successful if attempted. Therefore, the
Court’s ruling should bring full closure to all pending legal
challenges. We continue to move forward building an airport that
will better serve Bay County and Northwest Florida for many decades
In its ruling, the Court found:
- The FAA complied with the procedural requirements of the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in evaluating the proposal
to build the new airport at West Bay, and
- The FAA's decision that no prudent alternatives to the proposed
West Bay Site existed was “not arbitrary, capricious, and
abuse of discretion or otherwise contrary to law.”
“We are focused on building a state-of-the-art facility
that will be one of the greenest airports in the world,” said
Cramer. “The Court’s ruling and the consequent
resolution of all pending legal challenges will provide a boost to
our airline marketing and business recruitment efforts.”
“The Court’s action last week represents another
important milestone in our effort to improve air service for the
people of Bay County and Northwest Florida,” said Airport
Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill. “We are now past the
halfway point with construction. We are ramping up our airline and
economic development marketing efforts, and we have redoubled our
commitment to building and operating a ‘green’ airport.
We are looking forward to opening the new airport in less than