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Airport commission rescinds eviction notices for some pilots in Northern Colorado

LOVELAND — Pilots who keep their planes in the C hangar at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport will not be evicted after all. The airport commission rescinded the eviction notice at its board meeting Thursday.

Pilots have been in limbo for months, beginning in March, when the commission voted to evict airplane tenants in the A, B and C hangars at the airport over safety and liability concerns.

Pilots fought back and encouraged the commission to engage another engineering firm to do a more-detailed study. That study concluded that the C hangar could be saved with basic repairs, the B hangar might be saved but it would be costly, and the A hangar had served its useful life and should be demolished.

The commission heard that report at its Thursday meeting. Engineers said that A didn’t have a lot of structural issues, but those it did have were big. For B, the repairs needed to salvage it would bump up against building-code limits. C could be repaired for about $89,212.

Engineers also reported that demolishing A will require as much as $300,000, and a similar amount would likely be needed to demolish B, versus $115,315 to repair it. 

Pilot Rick Turley, who has been among those seeking a resolution more favorable than total evictions, said the engineering report shows that safety and liability concerns can be addressed. A statement from the airport’s insurance carrier indicated that it would no longer insure A, but it would insure B and C if repairs were made.

Turley said that the airport has already collected more than $89,000 in rental payments so far this year, meaning that if C is fixed, the airport would still turn a profit on rental payments this year and would earn upward of $150,000 a year after that.

He asked the commission to rescind the eviction notices for C tenants and to accelerate the development of shovel-ready sites that pilots could use to build private hangars for the future.

“We hope to have a proposal for tenants to build new hangars soon,” he said.

Another pilot, Steve McClintock, said instead of spending money to raze B, the commission ought to consider taking the doors off and converting it to a “hail shed,” essentially a car port that would enable airplane owners to keep their planes out of the worst of the weather.

Commission members voted unanimously to rescind the eviction notices for C hangar tenants. It also directed airport staff to begin work on the C repairs; the airport manager has authority to begin those repairs, although construction will require a request-for-proposals process. Commissioners also asked staff to come back with plans for how to deal with the other two hangars. 

“We’ll have to spend money regardless” on A and B, commissioner Jerry Stookesbury said, in reference to demolition costs.

He also said the commission needs to be “cognizant of how this GA (general aviation) community is supporting this airport. We should be investing in getting shovel-ready land available for these tenants. We’re doing it for passengers who don’t even exist yet,” he said of the commission’s decision to build a new terminal, even though there isn’t a fixed-route airline using the airport.

“We need to plow the rents back into them,” said Jeni Arndt, the mayor of Fort Collins who is also a commissioner.

Source: BizWest