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City gains ownership of hangars

Updated July 8, 2020 - 3:46 pm

Boulder City is taking ownership of 28 airport hangars after a District Court judge denied a motion and canceled a restraining order prohibiting it from doing so.

On July 1, Judge Nancy Allf denied a request for an injunction that would have kept the city, City Attorney Steve Morris and City Manager Al Noyola from terminating ground leases at the airport, taking control of the 28 hangars and exercising the leases’ reversion clause. The motion is part of a case filed against the city by 15 hangar owners.

Each of the owners had a 30-year land lease with the city that expired July 2. The agreements included a clause stating the hangars would revert to city ownership when they expired. Recently, City Council agreed to let the leases expire and have staff draft new ones as well as to seek appraisals for the property.

During the hearing, Allf denied the motion for a preliminary injunction and said the likelihood of success on the merits of the case was in favor of the city, not the owners.

“The irreparable harm in this case also would go to the city, and it is certainly in the public interest that the city be able to protect its business so long as it follows its own procedures,” she said.

According to her, those procedures include agendizing matters correctly and giving people the opportunity to have “meaningful public comment.”

In the case, the group accused staff of lying to and withholding information from council members and accused the city, Morris and Noyola of acting “arbitrarily and capriciously.” They also said they had been told the current leases would be extended and the hangars would not revert to city ownership.

Allf said the hangar owners’ property rights and leases had already expired and that past promises may give them a right to monetary damages but did not justify her to prohibit the council from making a “reasoned decision” based on a properly agendized and discussed course of action.

Morris referred to the proposed injunction as an “ad hominem attack” and said they are rarely effective in a court even though they “may get some traction in the court of public opinion.”

“This matter has always been about the city’s ability to enforce the terms and conditions of the lease agreement and we are pleased Judge Allf was not convinced by the false claims and baseless allegations set forth in plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction,” he said. “With the 28 … hangars reverting to the city on July 2, 2020, under the terms and conditions of the lease agreement, it is the city’s intent to move forward with the City Council’s consideration of the hangar rental agreement … at the July 14, 2020, City Council meeting.”

During the hearing, Morris assured Allf that there was no intent to start removing any personal property from the hangars and that the city would follow the law in that situation.

Attorney Cami Perkins, who is representing the hangar owners, said they have “great respect” for Allf’s decision and agree with her assessment that “City Council should make the decision about hangars.”

Perkins said they believe that city staff has been preventing council from making those decisions by not providing all the correct information. Additionally, she said she is “optimistic City Council will make the right decision” and will be provided with all the right information.

Allf had also approved a temporary restraining order against the council, prohibiting it from taking any action on terms and conditions for new airport hangar leases at its June 23 meeting. It was in effect until July 1.

During the hearing, Allf said she granted the restraining order because the June 23 meeting agenda did not indicate that lease termination was the only option. She said it only talked “generally” about the owners’ rights and she thought that was “inappropriate.” She said the restraining order was canceled at the end of the hearing.

The plaintiffs are BAC Services LLC, Michael and Bethany Caruso, Robert Dugan, Roland Fraga, Michael Halverson, R.J. Heapy, Ernie Martin, Doug Mueller, Dave and Cristy Moore, Raymond Nickels, Matt Ragan, Evan Slawson, Joel Smith, Brian Stokes and Vincent Tolomeo. According to court documents, they are also asking to be reimbursed for their costs and attorney fees and each plaintiff is seeking in excess of $15,000 in damages.

According to the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting, there will be a discussion and possible action about the ground leases and new rental agreement, along with a presentation by hangar owners regarding a proposed lease option.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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