Saturday, November 13, 2021

Court fight intensifies over Ogden-Hinckley Airport (KOGD) hangar leases

Ogden City has asked a federal judge to deny an airport user group’s “drastic and even radical” request for an injunction to stop the city from ending long-running hangar leases.

The Ogden Regional Airport Association last spring filed suit in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City alleging that new airport management plans will allow the city to illegally take improvements built into hangars after leases are not renewed.

The city denied the allegations and filed a motion that the suit be dismissed. Later, the association sought a preliminary injunction against any lease terminations before the suit is resolved.

Attorneys representing the city filed two more documents November 12 — one requesting that the court now rule on its dismissal motion and the other opposing the association’s motion for an injunction and temporary restraining order.

“Plaintiffs are seeking drastic and even radical injunctive relief that will effectively preclude Ogden City from managing the Ogden City Airport consistent with their municipal authority and responsibilities as well as state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements,” the city argued. The city contended the move to “rewrite the lease agreements” and require the city to “renew them into perpetuity” would convert the hangars into “permanent fee estates.”

City plans have evolved over the years toward putting the airport on a better financial footing and to comply with federal regulations, the city said. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration has adopted regulations limiting storage of “non-aeronautical property” in hangars, the city said. The association has argued that storage of non-aircraft items in hangars is permitted by the FAA “if they did not impede the movement of aircraft.”

The city also challenged statements submitted by two former Ogden-Hinckley Airport managers, including a contention that the city historically allowed lease owners a right of first refusal when terms expired and that “the airport was aware and even encouraged hangar owners to rely on their right of first refusal.”

In its filing last week, the city said it does not dispute that association members are entitled to enforcement of the terms of their lease agreements, but the city disputes any implication that it or any authorized representative waived any right to the enforcement of contract terms and rights secured by those lease agreements. The city noted the lease claims came from two former airport managers who were fired and still hold hangar leases there.

The association accused the current airport manager, Bryant Garrett, and the city attorney’s office of executing “a scheme to get around owners’ right of first refusal and established policies and practices to terminate owners’ leases and take their hangars without fair compensation.”

The city said new lease agreements for hangars have not contained a right of refusal since 2017, and the city “has never promised any kind of perpetual or unending right to the renewal of lease agreements.” Further, the city council on April 20 this year “eliminated language related to first rights of refusal for airport leases.”

The city said it always has reserved the right to structure leases to meet the needs of the airport. In 2016, the city adopted an administrative policy stating that lease renewals may not be available, or may carry a shortened term, if a new lease renewal would conflict with airport redevelopment plans.

The association quoted from a business plan in which the city outlined potential steps for phasing out leases, including demolition of hangars 50 or more years old. “Hangars needed to be removed before their lawful lease is up will likely need to be compensated,” the document said.

But in its court filing, the city said that document was a draft, not approved by any city officials and not authorized for public release.

Judge Jill Parrish has taken the arguments under advisement and no further hearings have yet been set.


Ogden City and airport management have determined any hangar over 40 years old is obsolete and has no value, “no exceptions” (Gary Williams, Ogden City Attorney). Lessors are left with three options: (1) walk away, (2) tear down to bare dirt, or (3) rent the facility to the airport at a fair market value.

Joint owners and I contracted with GSA to build the US Forest Service hangar in 1985. We have remodeled twice; it took two years just to get a building permit for the last remodel. In those years, we covered many specs, but one important item was never discussed, Title 8. Our renewed lease was signed in January 2021. Three months later, Title 8 was approved. Some public servants admitted they had never heard of it, yet it miraculously passed in one meeting. Title 8 was enforced before it became policy!

Much language (e.g., facility vs ground lease, guidance vs law, etc.) changed in our last lease with no disclosure. We just spent over $1 million to remodel our entire facility. Why would anyone spend that kind of money just to lose their investment? Why would anyone want to locate at Hinckley, home of hostile takeover(s)?

If airport hangars are becoming worthless, why are property taxes going up? Who pays property taxes when the airport takes ownership? Government does not tax government. Can Weber County do without the taxes paid by private hangar owners? Will the airport pay insurance on “their” acquired hangars? Can a city government overtake a federal government lease?

Airport finances are a problem. It is well publicized: the airport operates at a financial loss to the city. That was contested and losses halved. The latest reports are the airport operates in the black. Will a professional dare investigate the numbers and sign an audit?

Ogden needs a municipal airport, not a national or military airport. Those airports are already close. Ogden City and airport managers also need greater transparency, thorough financial accountability, and an airport that welcomes private aviators.

Tamera Newman
Tremonton, Utah 


  1. Nothing surprises me anymore when government see an opportunity to capatilize on making more money off the backs of the public

  2. Truth is you cannot believe anything these municipalities say. You have to get it in writing before investing your hard earned dollars to improve your hangar on their leased land. They continue to absorb FAA grants with provisions to protect these tenants. Most times you need to group together as hangar owners and commence legal action to prevent this type of discrimination. My experience with AOPA on this not great. Get ready to hire a knowledgeable aviation attorney to fix situation.


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