Friday, May 6, 2016

Court of Appeals rejects claim in Bend Municipal Airport (KBDN) case: At issue are competitors’ refueling stations

A local company’s lawsuit over a competitor’s refueling station at the Bend Municipal Airport has been rejected by the Oregon Court of Appeals, court records show.

It’s been three years since Professional Air, a fixed-base operator at the airport, first raised objections to Leading Edge Aviation’s proposed, and now operational, fueling station.

Although a Deschutes County hearings officer approved Leading Edge Aviation’s plan to build a refueling station in 2013, Professional Air appealed the decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals and eventually filed suit in Deschutes County Circuit Court.

Leading Edge, a company that provides aviation instruction and other services, had already received the necessary permits and started building the refueling station; it also received an amended permit that allowed it to build a canopy over the tanks.

LUBA decided in January 2014 that the county should reconsider the issue because the hearings officer had approved the site plan without considering whether it meshed with the county’s adopted Municipal Airport Master Plan. The airport is operated by the city, but the property is subject to county zoning regulations. The Bend Municipal Airport Master Plan provides planning guidelines for future airport development.

Professional Air filed suit against Leading Edge the next month, seeking relief through the courts.

In June 2014, a Deschutes County Circuit judge found the circuit court didn’t have the authority to consider Professional Air’s claims because the land use decision was pending and because LUBA had “exclusive jurisdiction” over the issues raised by those claims, according to the Oregon Court of Appeals opinion.

On April 20, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court judge’s decision that his courtroom wasn’t the proper venue for Professional Air’s claims against Leading Edge Aviation.

“The circuit court did not err in dismissing plaintiff’s complaint for lack of jurisdiction over either claim,” the opinion states.

A suit filed by Professional Air against the city of Bend and Leading Edge — alleging breach of contract, among other claims — is still pending in Deschutes County Circuit Court, according to electronic court records. A trial in that case is tentatively scheduled for November.

Gwil Evans, the president of Professional Air, said his company was ready to move on from the court case addressed by the Court of Appeals.

“Apparently they’re right; I’m not an attorney,” Evans said Wednesday. “All I know is we followed the advice of our attorney. And they suggested that court was the proper jurisdiction, and they’ve been told that it’s not. That’s the way the legal system works, and you know, we have to agree and move on.”

Evans says he is waiting to see how the current lawsuit against Leading Edge and the city will pan out but is eager for a resolution. Leading Edge also has plans to build a heliport at the airport; Evans has been critical of the details.

Travis Warthen, vice president and partner of Leading Edge, said the court’s decision doesn’t have much of an effect on operations.

“It’s still status normal,” Warthen said Tuesday. Prior to the installation of Leading Edge’s fuel tanks, Professional Air was the only vendor of fuel at the municipal airport, Warthen said.

Warthen continued: “I guess the customer wins, because they now have competition.”

Evans said his objection to the plans to build the refueling station was not because of increased competition. He maintains the fuel station’s plans were counter to the airport’s master plan.

“It had nothing to do with Leading Edge becoming a fuel provider on the field,” Evans said. “As long as they met all the requirements and did everything right, that was great.”

Original article can be found here:

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