Despite protests from hangar owners, Ogden City adopts new airport policy | Local News
OGDEN – Ogden City Council has approved a series of new policy changes at Ogden-Hinckley Airport.
But on Tuesday evening, the council’s passage of these changes was preceded by a chorus of outright objections, formed by a large contingent of airport hangar owners who said the action would hurt those who were were previously committed to supporting the airport.
The amendments adopted by the council include several price increases for common airport activities such as parking, aircraft landing and stowage fees, as well as security badges. The ordinance also allows the city to set up fee waiver incentive programs to attract aviation services to the airport. The city’s 20-year master plan for the facility shows that the city is keen to recruit aerospace companies to the site and continue to develop commercial passenger air service to make the airport more financially sound. The city wants to redevelop the west side of the airport to help meet these goals.
While the aforementioned changes were deemed necessary by Ogden officials, the main topic of conversation associated with Tuesday’s action was a set of new hangar rental settings at the airport.
Prior to the adoption of the ordinance, the city granted leases of up to 15 years for a private hangar, 20 years for a commercial aircraft operator and 25 years for “fixed operators”, which are organizations. who provide aviation services like refueling, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction and more. Ogden City Attorney Gary Williams said with the development on hold on the west side, the mayor’s office concluded that the old lease terms did not allow potential tenants to repay their construction debts enough. quickly, hampering the city’s ability to attract new business ventures.
The new ordinance gives the manager of Ogden Airport the power to grant leases of up to 40 years, which Williams says gives tenants time to recoup their investment. Those who build at the airport own everything they build, but must pay rent to operate on city property. Airport leases are essentially a form of construction finance, where a particular tenant pays for construction on Ogden Airport and then pays reduced rent to the city.
Existing leases will be honored under the new city plan, but the catch is the city’s intention to start exercising what are called “reversion rights”. Reversion rights allow a landlord, in this case Ogden City, to acquire ownership of property that is in rented premises after a lease expires. Williams said the changes, and in particular the city’s renewed interest in exercising reversion rights, are intended to provide a “forecast” to current tenants about the future of the airport. The measure will also help the city redevelop clusters of sheds that are nearing the end of their useful life.
“The city … for many years has rarely exercised its reversion rights in these hangars,” Williams said. “There was a lot of discussion between airport managers and (city) administration … and even in some public meetings, about when the city would exercise reversion rights. … now we want to use a new standard as a forecast so that everyone knows what the city is supposed to do in the future for rental contracts.
But some current general aviation hangar owners whose leases will soon expire and likely not be renewed, say the city’s plan is unfair to them.
Martin O’Loughlin, a resident of Ogden, operates five businesses in an airport hangar and says he’s invested nearly $ 500,000 to bring it up to modern standards and secure a commercial lease from the city. He said if the city was allowed to take his shed after its lease expired, it was essentially losing its investment for nothing in return. O’Loughlin said that before making the investment, he studied the city’s long-term plans and compared ratings with neighbors at the airport who had similar leases, believing he was making the right choice. He said the city’s new target had effectively blinded him.
“This proposal has dramatic effects on the people who have invested in good faith in Ogden City and Ogden Airport,” said O’Loughlin.
Dave Westwood is a member of the Red Lodge, MT city council, but he has a hangar at the airport. He said that when he bought a property it was based on the understanding that he could own it, sell it or even leave it to the heirs. He has now said he was essentially stuck with property and at the mercy of the city because the new policy immediately devalues his shed, rendering any attempt to get out from under it by selling to someone else unnecessary.
Layton-based attorney Doug Durbano, who represents a group at the airport calling themselves the “Ogden Regional Airport Association,” described the city plan as a government takeover. In so many words, Durbano said the city’s plan, with the reversion clause continuing, would invite legal action.
“Passing the ordinance and the amendments as proposed creates a legal minefield that will be very, very difficult,” Durbano said.
The lawyer asked the city council to table the point and allow the ORAA and its legal representatives to discuss the matter further in a council working session. Council members Marcia White, Angela Choberka and Doug Stephens said they were ready to continue discussions, but other council members said the idea was unrealistic. Board chairman Bart Blair and members Rich Hyer and Ben Nadolski all said they felt ill-equipped to sit down and negotiate with a lawyer. The trio felt those talks would suit Williams, who himself said he had already discussed the matter at length with Durbano.
While the city’s goal of starting to exercise reversion rights is new, Williams said the reversion clause has been in all airport contracts for decades.
“There are no surprises,” he said. “I can’t believe everyone who spoke to you tonight hasn’t read their contract, but even if they haven’t … they’re bound by the terms.”
The council ultimately approved the city’s airport plan, with White and Stephens voting against. The couple said their ‘no’ vote came not because they were against the proposal, but felt the issue should be discussed further.