Friday, June 06, 2014

Bucks County, Pennsylvania: Airport opponents give update to Yardley Borough Council on lawsuit against Frontier Airlines, Mercer County, Trenton-Mercer Airport and Federal Aviation Administration

YARDLEY BOROUGH – A leader of Bucks Residents for Responsible Airport Management (BRRAM) gave a summary of its legal action regarding the Trenton-Mercer Airport at the June 3 borough council meeting.

Holly Bussey, BRRAM spokesperson, gave legal complaint forms to the council to be collected and used to file an injunction by BRRAM with the courts that Frontier Airlines cease growth/expansion.

BRRAM filed a the legal complaint in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J. on April 29 against Frontier, the County of Mercer, Trenton-Mercer Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jordan Yeager, borough council solicitor, explained BRRAM’S issues with the airport.

“The basic problem they have is the airport has expanded and has planned to expand further without complying with federal law which required an environmental impact of expansion,” Yeager said after the council meeting on June 3,

In her report, Bussey said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has 60 days to respond to the filing.

“That deadline is fast approaching,” said Bussey, a resident of Lower Makefield Township and a longtime BRRAM member. BRRAM has about 200 members who reside in Yardley Borough, Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield and communities in New Jersey.

She said BRRAM is on a “tight deadline” and advised that BRRAM needed the complaints by Saturday, June 7 or in its lawyer’s Princeton office by Monday, June 9. William Potter is BRRAM’s attorney.

Bussey said to date, BRRAM has heard from Frontier, which has hired five lawyers for this case to oppose BRRAM.

“We have heard nothing from Mercer County or Mercer Airport,” she said. Bussey said BRRAM is gathering certification that “exemplifies how people are impacted with the current service and concerns we have. These certifications in layman’s terms are the legal way to ‘complain’”.

Bussey told the council members that “an injunction is the legal way to have a court order someone to do something or stop doing something. The goal is to require the FAA to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and noise determination review.”

She said the purpose of the certification is “to allow anyone who is concerned or impacted to let the court know how this is occurring. Litigants are required to complete this. It’s something that can be done easily and in your own words. The handouts we have here tonight can be filled out and there are instructions.”

Yardley Borough Council pledged to support BRRAM and the community’s concerns earlier this year about airplanes flying over their homes.

Borough council previously voted to authorize Yeager to file a “friend of court” brief.

Friend of the court allows interested parties who are not part of litigation to file legal briefs with the court to help educate the court about their concerns and their view of legal issues in the court.

“We are going to be filing a Friend of the Court brief in support of BRRAM’s position,” Yeager noted.

BRRAM’s attorney said the lawsuit relates to the “vast expansion of commercial jet passenger service at the airport” that has occurred without the airport conducting environmental studies which are mandated by federal law.

He said the “key aspect is mitigation of harm. We have met with and heard from numerous residents on the impact low level flights are having in their lives: noise vibration, they can’t open windows and can’t get a good night’s sleep.”

Potter said the FAA previously approved Frontier to fly in and out of the airport at a time when there were minimum flights. However, he said, the usage of the airport has expanded.

“There is more passenger service and more overflies over Yardley Borough and Lower Makefield,” Potter said. “The Bucks County area is an extension of the airport.”

Councilmember Rich Wayne said after the meeting that he invited BRRAM to give an update to council at its June 3 meeting.

“They got an update last night from their attorney about their lawsuit,” he said.

Wayne said at election time last fall residents were complaining about air traffic over their homes. “We’re doing what residents told us,” he said.

He took some of BRRAM’s forms to distribute. “Some of my neighbors would be interested,” he said.

Meanwhile, one resident who is not a BRRAM member, voiced his concern.

Ron Harland said officials should do more about the problems caused by the airport.

“This is going to be one of the major issues for this town and it will destroy the town,” Harland said.

He criticized the borough council. “Yardley right now is not prioritizing this,” he said.

Joe Hunter, council president, said the borough is trying, but has “limited resources”.

Hunter said he understands how residents feel about the airplanes. “They have been flying over our house for 40 years,” he said.

Borough council is working with local, state and federal legislators to address the situation. 


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