N.J. Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong issued a 54-page ruling in which he blasted the town's eminent domain land grab, a case that has dragged on for nearly 15 years, saying it amounted to a "manifest abuse of power" and a waste of local taxpayers' dollars. He ordered the town to pay the Solberg family's legal bills, which are expected to tally into the millions of dollars.
But he didn't stop there. Armstrong set a new precedent by elevating GA airports to a special category, one they richly deserve. The judge had this to say:
"Not only is general aviation important to the national infrastructure, but it serves a critical role as the cradle of aviation. The security and economic vitality of the United States depends on this laboratory of flight where future civilian and military pilots are born.
"Airports such as Solberg blossomed in an era when local young men turned their dreams of barnstorming into air dominance in World War II and led this country into its golden age. These dreams still live in our youth, and general aviation endures as the proving ground for future pilots from all walks of life.
Eve Adams On Facebook wrote:Aviation triumps over residents nationwide---for now. Time to take back the skies, end the pollution, protect our homes and well being of our children and environment. Time for a national coalition --- we are many strong across the country, let's join together just as groups are doing in several states. Together we will far outnumber them---- by tens of thousands of npoise impacted sufferers. Enough already.
EWING — A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed against the Federal Aviation Administration arguing that flyovers from the Trenton-Mercer Airport have negatively impacted the lives of residents in three Pennsylvania towns.
In his one-page order, U.S. Judge Peter Sheridan ruled the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case filed by Bucks Residents for Responsible Airport Management (BRRAM), setting back the Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield and Yardley residents' quest to have the FAA review the impact of rapid flight expansion at the airport.
"It's a major disappointment but it doesn't necessarily mean that the game is over, that the contest is done," said BRRAM attorney William Potter. "We have the right to appeal and I'll discuss all options with my clients."
BRRAM now has 60 days to file an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
BRRAM filed suit in April 2014 in the midst of rapid expansion by Frontier Airlines at the Trenton-Mercer Airport, arguing that flyovers negatively impacted their livelihood with unwanted noise.
In the suit, Potter argued the FAA should have conducted a review and prepared an environmental impact statement considering the effect expanded use of the airport would have on neighboring residents.
The original complaint named the Mercer County freeholder board and Frontier Airlines as defendants, but Sheridan in March approved a motion to dismiss the case against them.
"We always felt that we had done nothing wrong and, as we made improvements at the airport, we went by the book," Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said on Tuesday. "Along with the airline and the FAA, we followed all the guidelines.
"Hopefully this will put the genie back into the bottle," he said.
At a May 6 hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Andrew Ruymann argued that the FAA was not required to conduct additional environmental impact studies after granting approval for Frontier Airlines to begin servicing Trenton-Mercer Airport.
The FAA's approval also allowed the airline to add as many flights as it wanted, Ruymann said.
"(Frontier Airlines) requested to add Trenton as a carrier on its operation specifications," Ruymann said. "The FAA approved that request and, per the Airline Deregulation Act, Frontier was then permitted — using their best business judgment — to increase the flights. And they've done that."
At the hearing, Ruymann argued that BRRAM's challenge of the FAA approval came well beyond the 60-day deadline and that federal law maintains it should be heard in Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Frontier Airlines has taken that very limited approval from the FAA and expanded it into approximately 60 flights per week over my clients' homes, schools, businesses and recreational areas," Potter said at the hearing.
Both Mercer County and Ewing officials have rallied around the recent turnaround at the airport, with freeholders recently approving contracts to sell advertising at the airport and create a "branding strategy."
The airport was briefly closed in 2013 for runway and parking lot improvements. In February, Hughes said the county was committed to replacing the airport's 48-year-old terminal.
"I want to ensure that our airport is prepared to take advantage of future opportunities and the economic impact that could result," Hughes said during his annual state of the county address. "The return on investment for our region will be huge."
jjbaker wrote:Hello Folks -
In a recent ruling of a Colorado court in favor of a Skydiving operation, accused of causing unreasonable noise, very valuable wording was used to turn down plaintiffs claims. While the bench ruling is linked below for those who write letters in ongoing advocacy cases, the statements of the court can be considered refreshing, according to today's standards.
Although Boulder District Court Judge Judith LaBuda wished for both sides to move on, local organization Citizens for Quiet Skies has filed an appeal of its lost lawsuit against Mile-Hi Skydiving. Citizens for Quiet Skies, Gunbarrel resident Kimberly Gibbs and the five other original individual plaintiffs filed requests to the Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday to review the case that was closed in May.
The plaintiffs sued Mile-Hi Skydiving and its owner, Frank Casares, claiming that Casares was being negligent and a nuisance by flying what they said were unusually loud planes too frequently over homes in southwest Longmont and unincorporated Boulder County. LaBuda ruled unilaterally in favor of Mile-Hi, concluding in her judgment that the Federal Aviation Administration rules regarding noise supersede local regulations.
LaBuda also concluded that Gibbs "is more sensitive to the noise produced by Mile-Hi's operations than the average community member who resides in the (Mile-Hi) flight box." LaBuda also wrote in her judgment that while people may find the sounds of motorcycles, trucks, lawn mowers or children's yells irritating, irritating a small group of people is not the same as being annoying enough to register with "a normal person in the community."
LaBuda expressed her hope that both sides and the community at large would move on after the lawsuit, which included a week-long trial and a site visit to two plaintiff homes while Mile-Hi pilots flew overhead. But Gibbs said she found the comments about the children yelling and lawnmowers "insulting" and feels that LaBuda "misapplied the law." "From the beginning I had a pretty strong commitment to see this through to the end," Gibbs said.
LaBuda's order requiring the plaintiffs to pay Mile-Hi $67,000 in damages out of a requested $85,000 was another reason Gibbs wanted to appeal the decision.
"It really ups the ante for me, because we feel it's a punitive statement and a punitive award ... so for me personally, that's going to fall on my shoulders and that was definitely a strong factor in my decision-making process." Casares said in a statement shared via his spokesman, Russ Rizzo: "We are confident in our legal position. Our focus remains on running a successful business that contributes to the local economy while continuing our commitment to being a good neighbor."
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