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Tue, Feb 14, 2023

Ogden Regional Airport Association Seeks Support

Airport Hangars, Pilots, Threatened by Ogden City Officials

Ogden, Utah city officials have proposed a five-year program by which to pay for the planned demolition of old aircraft hangars on the Ogden-Hinckley Airport (OGD). The measure is part of a larger plan to make the airport more attractive to commercial airlines and air-travelers, thereby improving the Ogden’s financial status.

The city’s program has been challenged, however, by hangar lessees, who’ve brought a federal lawsuit alleging improvements made to the hangars by leaseholders stand to be unconstitutionally appropriated by the city in the absence of compensation or equivalent recourse.

In May 2022 Ogden City economic development director Brandon Cooper presented the city council a plan outlining a $250,000 expenditure to demolish 35 hangars over the following two years and 52 more by 2025.

According to a planning document, the demolition program targeted hangars the city deemed: too old, in poor condition, or where “the underlying land is needed for a higher/better use.”

In response to Cooper’s presentation, Ogden City Council member Richard Hyer inquired after the manner in which existing hangar tenants would be dealt as their leases expire, including whether they’d be afforded opportunity to maintain occupancy on a month-to-month basis pending demolition.

Cooper responded: “We are trying to balance the needs of tenants and the terms and conditions of the leases with the master plan. In strategic areas, we are absolutely going to take those down.”

The OGD hangar lessees’ lawsuit, being heard in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, seeks an injunction to stop the city from ending long-running hangar leases. The Ogden Regional Airport Association (ORAA) alleges that Ogden, by means of refusing to renew leases, intends to illegally abscond with improvements made to the OGD hangars by lessees.

In a letter to the Utah aviation community, ORAA stated:

“Ogden City and the Ogden airport manager intend to take possession of every hangar at the Ogden airport without compensation by not renewing leases. Additionally the City has also more than tripled lease rates over the past five years. The goal of the City is to convert the airport from being part of the transportation infrastructure in support of aviation, to the equivalent of a municipal ATM machine at no cost to the City. This is wrong and is not aligned with FAA grant assurances which states airports should strive to be self-sufficient. A municipality should be supporting airport businesses not becoming one. But that is Ogden City's plan.

“ORAA is taking legal and legislative steps to prevent Ogden City from taking these illegal and immoral actions. HB367 is intended to prevent a municipality from taking a hangar without compensation and then using the asset in a for profit business. HB367 is currently in front of the Political Subdivisions Committee which is where we need your immediate help. A letter needs to be sent TODAY! The Committee is listed below. We need as many voices speaking in favor of this legislation and asking these committee members to vote in favor of the bill.

Thanks so much for your help,

Ogden Regional Airport Association Board

Though not among the lawsuit plaintiffs, Doug Lawton, a retired F-16 and commercial airline pilot who leases space for his private plane in an OGD hangar, contends his fellow lessees have legitimate concerns. He also questions Ogden’s ability to attract commercial air-carriers, regardless the extent to which city officials improve the airport’s facilities.

To the subject of the hangar lease situation, Mr. Lawton invoked the example of a homeowner buying a house on land he didn’t own. Rather, than securing the land, the homeowner merely enters into a friendly lease agreement with the landowner. “Then somewhere along the line they start changing in ways that allow them to take your house from you, with no remuneration,” Lawton observed.

Lawton described Ogden City’s airport’s hangar project as an eminent domain operation without proper compensation at fair market value. “The city’s getting to the point where they’re saying, ‘We’re going to take our land back and whatever’s on it.’ I suspect they have some perverted methodology where they can justify saying that. But the hangar owner is out all his money that he’s spent on the hangar.”

FMI: www.gofundme.com/f/jsrt9u-ogden-regional-airport-association-legal-fund

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