FAA ADO Express Concern Over Alabama SB466 and HB622
In a recent letter to ALDOT, an FAA official from the Mississippi Airport District Office expressed concern regarding Alabama legislation that would eliminate an important tool municipalities have to ensure safe airports. The legislation SB466 passed a Senate committee 9-0 last week. Companion Bill HB622 containing similar language is expected to be considered soon by the Alabama House- County & Municipal Government Committee. Both of these bills allow for airports only in Class I [Population above 300,000] municipalities to have powers of eminent domain.
The FAA letter stated there are 90 publicly owned, public-use airports in Alabama that benefit from the privilege of eminent domain. We [FAA] have worked hard over the past several years to improve the safety of many of these airports by helping airports acquire land needed to ensure safe approaches. These include projects to acquire land with obstructions to aircraft (e.g. trees) and land necessary to ensure the safety of people on the ground (e.g. runway protection zones). This is similar to the acquisition of a standard right-of-way for a road.
In addition, the following small airports received Federal Grants to acquire land for approaches in Fiscal Year 2005: Aliceville, Ashland, Clanton, Elba, Geneva, Jackson, Roanoke and Union Springs. In Fiscal Year 2006, we [FAA] plan to issue grants for land in approaches at Alexander City, Aliceville, Andalusia, Camden, Centerville, Clanton, Elba, Geneva, Hartselle and Roanoke. Federal participation in these projects is limited to the costs allowed under 49, CFR, Part 24.
Although eminent domain is seldom used in these airport projects, it is an optional tool that helps keep the bargaining field level between airport owners and landowners. The FAA is asking that action be taken to ensure that eminent domain is available for the local governments that own and operate those 90 public-use, publicly owned airports in Alabama.
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