By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
ORMOND BEACH -- The City Commission got a timely announcement during its April 2 meeting as it discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's plan on April 7 to shut down 149 airport control towers, including the one here.
The city was granted an extra week to file a lawsuit, including a stay, according to City Attorney Randal Hayes. "So we will be filing suit in federal court tomorrow," he said.
However, on Friday, April 5, the FAA announced it will delay the closing of the small airport Control Towers until June. The recent deluge of suits filed by cities (including Ormond Beach) convinced the FAA to delay closing until June 15. According to a press release by the FAA's chief operating officer, David Grizzle, they will "attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions. This additional time will allow the FAA to help facilitate that transition."
The basis of Ormond Beach's lawsuit will be "the FAA did not follow their own regulations in shutting down these affected towers," Mr. Hayes said.
One compelling piece of information that had just come to light was, of the 149 towers slated for closure, Ormond Beach is the fourth busiest tower by density. And the three towers above it are all being kept open.
Deputy Mayor Bill Partington added, "You hate to have to do it, but in order to enforce our rights sometimes you have to take legal action."
Steven Lichliter, Air Traffic Manager for the Ormond Beach airport, said, "We are engaged in some action with the FAA. It's very important to the city and important for economic development (to keep the tower open). In this past year, we did over 150,000 operations and only 6 airports achieved this."
It was one of the FAAs criterions for towers to remain open and Ormond Beach achieved that number.
"It really upsets me," Mayor Ed Kelley said. "I think we have legal standing ... and they have to comply with their own regulations."
In other business, the second reading of ordinances permitting the construction of two Sunoco stations at Yonge Street and West Granada Boulevard, and West Granada and Interstate 95 passed unanimously. The stations will provide 12 and 16 pumps respectively and be designed to resemble the Andy Romano Park.
A Sunoco station at 560 S. Atlantic Ave. was approved March 5 and, according to Planning Director Ric Goss, "I believe we have received the final site plans for the construction of that station."