Jack Dysart: Obligations undefined
Thursday’s front page article “Steamboat City Council to decide if city should take on airport hangar maintenance” by Scott Franz seems to give credence to what many consider a misinterpretation of the obligations of the city and the hangar owners at the Steamboat Springs Airport. Much of the confusion centers on use of the term “common areas” by city staff and others: “… the city’s recent discovery that its 12-year-old lease with another private hangar development at the airport also calls for the developers to cover the common area maintenance.”
Nowhere in the hangar End User Ground Lease Agreement is the term “common area” used or defined. “Common area” is generally understood to include all the space between buildings but could also be interpreted to mean all public use space at the airport. Sidewalks and walkways are specifically mentioned in the lease agreement as being an owner responsibility.
The hangar owners already pay the city annual lease fees that are more than double the estimated cost of snow removal, on top of which each owner has a minimum fuel purchase requirement for which the city earns about $1 per gallon of fuel purchased. The city controls this source of revenue by setting the price of fuel, and the hangar owners have no say in the matter.
Several hangars are used only part time by the owners, and the city has side agreements to collect additional revenue by renting an empty hangar for overnight use by transient aircraft (often for $200 per day or more) and sharing the proceeds with the owner. Thus the city has an incentive to keep the taxiways and ramp parking area cleared for its own benefit.
Council members raised a valid question about “what kind of precedent they would be setting if they agreed to take on the common area maintenance at the hangar development when, for example, private property owners downtown and at the base of the ski area are responsible for maintaining their sidewalks and other common areas.”
If a hangar has a walkway, the owner is already responsible to maintain it. A more accurate analogy is to ask whether it would be reasonable to expect the downtown business owners to be responsible for clearing Lincoln Avenue.
SBS Hangars I LLC, secretary
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