Islands' Sounder


Port suing neighbors | Letter

April 23, 2013 · Updated 3:24 PM

The Port of Orcas will spend over $80,000 to sue their neighbors over an issue that was resolved by a joint committee but not accepted by the Port and the FAA.  Fact: this is a property rights issue that does not involve the FAA.

The neighboring property owners, who have deeded access rights to use the “airstrip” (not other Port Property), requested a joint committee meeting after the port wrote a tariff demanding the property owners pay a fee based on the tie down fee (the amount charged to aircraft owners that rent a Port tie down space for their aircraft).

The property owners objected because the fee did not reflect the language of their deeds.  The owners understood that a fee could be charged for access and use and were willing to do so, but only “as charged to all others for like use of the airstrip” as stated in the deed.

All commercial aircraft that use the Orcas Airport and airports throughout the world pay landing fees.  The property owners offered to pay three times the amount the commercial carriers were paying but the FAA refused.  Note: it was not necessary for the port to ask the FAA.

The port initially filed a Declaratory Relief with the court.  The judge ruled against the Port using a tie down fee basis but did not suggest an alternative basis.

The Port has continued their attempt to charge the property owners a fee that does not reflect the language of the deed. As a result, there will now be a full trial to resolve the issue. No matter what the outcome, at best it will take over 100 years for the port to recover the money they have wasted on a frivolous lawsuit against their friends and neighbors – all because they couldn’t make a decision about something they were legally entitled to make.  So there are your tax dollars at work.

If you believe that deeded rights should be honored and the port should not foolishly spend your tax dollars, call one of the port commissioners for an accounting and an explanation.

Bob Waunch

Mike Parnell

The landowners’ representatives

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