St. Clair Preparing Response to Hangar Rental Issue - The Missourian: News

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St. Clair Preparing Response to Hangar Rental Issue

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Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 7:02 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

The city is preparing a response to a notice of docketing regarding a complaint filed by tenant Jim DeVries concerning the St. Clair Regional Airport.

City Administrator Rick Childers told The Missourian that City Attorney Kurt Voss is preparing the response, and it will be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration within the requested deadline.

The city received a letter from attorney Ellen Erichsen of the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel late last month saying that an answer to the filed complaint is required within 20 days.

This specific complaint, which DeVries referred to as a “14 C.F.R. a Part 16,” was sent to Federal Aviation Administration personnel in May. A copy of the complaint was received by the city in June prior to the notice of docketing from the FAA.

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.”

According to the complaint, it specifically alleges two things.

“First (is) the existing tenants that have tried to negotiate a lease for 2013,” the document reads. “The city made changes in our lease for 2012 and inserted in Article III a sentence that stated the lease was not renewable.

“The tenants believe that the city will attempt to force us to move at the end of 2012.”

The second part of the complaint refers to an individual request for hangar rental space made by Rosemary Ficken, the wife “of previous tenant Jerome Ficken,” the document read, adding that Rosemary Ficken called Childers and discussed the issue with him.

According to the complaint, the Fickenses were denied rental space. DeVries wrote that Rosemary Ficken stated Childers said the reason was because “it was not logical because the airport is going to be closed.”

Childers told The Missourian that the conversation did take place and that he did state words similar to what Rosemary Ficken indicated. However, the city administrator also said a formal request for space never was received in writing.

“It was only an informal conversation over the phone,” Childers said last month.

Mayor Ron Blum said, however, if a formal request was made for hangar space, the city would consider it.

The complaint is signed by DeVries. Other parties listed are Tim Dempsey of Pacific, Dave Hardin of Crestwood, Grady Bowers of Crestwood, Chris Kempen of Pacific, Gilbert Hoffman of rural St. Clair, Grenville Sutcliffe of Pacific, George Brock of Union and the Fickens of Cedar Hill.

Local officials are trying to close the airport on the north side of the city to make way for proposed retail development on the 80-acre site. Blum has met with FAA officials regarding the closure request and currently is working on a plan with those officials.

DeVries, who has filed other complaints with the FAA against the city, has been the most vocal opponent to the city’s attempts to close the facility.