A group of airport hangar owners filed a complaint Monday, June 15, in Nevada District Court against the city and two staff members, asking to retain ownership of their hangars and damages be paid to them.
The group is also accusing staff of lying to and withholding information from City Council members and accusing the city, City Attorney Steve Morris and City Manager Al Noyola of acting “arbitrarily and capriciously.”
“While the city has yet to be formally served with the complaint, the city downloaded a copy of the complaint from the court’s online system on Tuesday,” said Communications Manager Lisa LaPlante. “A cursory review of the assertions made by the plaintiffs reveals the allegations have no factual basis and plaintiffs’ claims have no legal support. The city will defend its right to strictly enforce the terms and conditions of its contracts.”
Each of the hangar owners has a land lease at the airport that expires July 2. According to the agreement, once the lease expires, the hangars revert to city ownership. Recently, City Council agreed to let the leases expire and have staff draft new ones as well as seek appraisals for the property.
The original lease was between the city and Nunno Corp. Ltd. It allowed them to build hangars and lease the land they were on. Throughout the 30-year term, Nunno recouped its cost by subleasing the land and selling interest in the hangars. At the end of the term, the city would gain the hangars as assets.
During recent discussions, hangar owners said they wanted the current lease extended and the property not to revert to city ownership. They said they had been told that would happen and nothing would change.
Attorney Cami Perkins said she and the plaintiffs intend to seek “emergency injunctive relief” and plan to file a separate motion asking for it.
“That motion will contain a lot of exhibits that show staff and city officials have been saying for years that the leases would be renewed or new ones entered,” she said. “We don’t believe staff is providing council with the correct information to make an informed decision.”
In the complaint, Perkins wrote that Morris “falsely informed” City Council that it could not legally extend or renew the current lease or enter into new ones and that its only option was the reversion clause. She also wrote that staff did not present other lease options that had been submitted to them by the hangar owners and another attorney.
Additionally, she wrote that council members were not informed that Aeroplex Group Partners LLC, an outside consultant hired by the city, said the city should expect to spend more than $41,000 on each of the 28 hangars if they took ownership of them and that staff would not allow an item requested by a council member or chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee be put on the June 23 meeting agenda because it was less than 19 days before the meeting.
Perkins said there were several exceptions to that requirement, all of which had been met. The complaint did not say which council member made the request, but the advisory committee chairman is Matt Ragan, who is one of the plaintiffs.
The other 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, Evan Slawson, Joel Smith, Brian Stokes and Vincent Tolomeo.
In addition to asking that the court allow their leases to be renewed and they retain ownership of the hangars, they are asking to be reimbursed for their costs and attorney fees in this case, that they each be paid $15,000 in damages and for an injunction to prevent the reversion clause be enforced July 2.
A District Court hearing has yet to be set.
Perkins is also representing an airport operator in another case against the city.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.