Attorney Tad Wintermeyer said Thursday the land lease was the focus of the association's advocacy. “Of central concern were the term of the land lease and the reversion back to the city. Wednesday night's vote approved a 20-year land lease term with two successive 10-year options, with full reversion to the city at term.”
He said the decision was a marked turnaround from the original draft land lease circulated by the airport authority.
The original proposal included a reversion clause after an initial 20-year lease followed by one 10-year option for a total of 30 years.
“The reasoned comments and patient willingness to listen, by Chairwoman Lynn DeVault and the individual authority members, helped facilitate (Wednesday) night's satisfactory vote,” he said. “I am personally grateful to the members of the association and local aviation community who dedicated countless hours with their regular attendance at the authority's meetings. The local aviation community's tireless advocacy and hard work paid off last night in a big way to secure the future success and viability of the new airport. I believe the foundation for synergistic growth at the new airport was cast as a result of last night's vote.”
Wintermeyer said the hangar and T-hangar draft leases were modified to reflect many of the changes in the land lease. Of particular note was the change allowing hangar tenants to conduct preventative maintenance in their own hangars as well as self-fuel. Action on the lengthy 56-page Airport Minimum Standards was postponed for further comment.
Airport Authority member Lou Patten said reaching the agreement with pilots and owners allows them to proceed with the business plan. City Attorney John Kimball will make the final changes before distributing it to pilots and owners who will then have 30 days to decide whether or not to move to Cleveland Regional Jetport.
Wintermeyer said the association felt the approved land lease draft presented a win-win to the new airport, the authority, local taxpayers and to owners and pilots.
“No single plan, lease or minimum standard alone can generate sustainable airport growth,” he said. “Organic grassroots growth comes from an active, vibrant, vital and valuable pilot community. The authority has demonstrated by its vote last night, its desire to foster this type of growth by working with the local aviation community.”
Local pilots met with the airport authority in April to discuss terms of the lease they felt were unfair to local aviators.
Wintermeyer said Thursday a majority of the existing hangar owners at Hardwick Field indicated plans to relocate to the new airport as a result of the authority’s vote.
“This was the 'big picture' goal from the outset of the Association's advocacy,” he said. “Additionally, several previously uncommitted owners with aircraft hangared at Collegedale and Lovell Field have indicated that they plan on building hangars at the new airport in light of the newly enacted draft land lease.”
There are 85 airplanes owned in Bradley County and only 35 are at Hardwick Field. There are 50 aircraft that belong to Bradley County owners who cannot use Hardwick Field. Also, there are 13 Fortune 100 manufacturing companies in the area and Global Express flies into Chattanooga on a weekly basis delivering parts to Volkswagen and other industries.