St. Clair city officials have Monday circled on their calendars.
It is by that day that the Federal Aviation Administration has said it will rule on the Part 16 complaint lodged against the city in regard to the St. Clair Regional Airport.
In early February, the FAA granted itself a sixth extension on ruling on the complaint, which was lodged by airport tenant and Pacific resident Jim DeVries in spring 2012.
DeVries, who is one of only four tenants who rents hangar space at the facility located on the north side of town, has been vehemently opposed to the city and its efforts to close the airport and use the 80-acre parcel for much-needed retail development.
The city needs the permission of the FAA to close the facility because it received federal grants as late as 2006 to make improvements. Closing the airport has been a priority of Ron Blum and his administration since he took office in 2007.
“We’ve done everything they (FAA) have asked,” Blum said earlier this week. “This deadline has been extended six times now. We’re hoping there isn’t a seventh extension.”
According to the FAA, it won’t consider closing the airport until the Part 16 complaint is resolved.
“This matter is before the FAA based on the above-referenced complaint, filed in accordance with FAA rules of practice for federally assisted airport enforcement proceedings,” reads a short letter sent to the city by Randall S. Fiertz, director of airport compliance and management analysis. “... The date by which the director’s determination will be issued in this matter is hereby extended to March 3, 2014.”
The letter goes on to say that, “An extension of time is necessary and appropriate for a fair and complete determination in this case.”
DeVries’ complaint, officially titled a “14 C.F.R. Part 16,” was sent to Federal Aviation Administration personnel in May 2012.
The complaint alleges “noncompliance by the city of St. Clair Regional Airport, the sponsor of the airport, of its obligations under federal law applicable to the operation of an airport.”
The city and the FAA have sent correspondence back and forth regarding the airport for years. Each time a corrective measure has been requested, the city has said it has addressed and fixed the situation.
Last year, the Missouri Department of Transportation said it will not oppose closure of the airport. Blum and other city officials also have been working with Missouri’s congressional delegation to get the facility closed.
Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill last summer cosponsored Amendment 1801, “to release the city of St. Clair, Mo., from all restrictions, conditions and limitations on the use, encumbrance, conveyance and closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport.”
Blunt Press Secretary Genny Carter told The Missourian last year, however, that the amendment was offered but never went to a vote.