Airport 'Clarity' Bill Passes Legislature

Jun 17, 2014

Credit Nicola since 1972 / Flickr

The state legislature has successfully passed another effort to wrest Charlotte Douglas airport from City Council control.

The fight over who controls the nation’s sixth-busiest airport—the council or a state-created commission—has rolled on for a year, entered the courts, and stopped to rest with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has declined to decide, pushing the decision back to the courts and the state, along with a few questions.

Representative Ruth Samuelson , a Mecklenburg County Republican, told her colleagues this new bill simply answers those questions so the FAA can decide.

“All of it’s just designed to clarify that [the airport] is still owned by the city and the oversight’s provided by the city through the commission,” Samuelson told her colleagues.

“Our courts are designed to solve these differences and this is a local issue, being settled within the courts for our local jurisdiction,” Representative Becky Carney, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, responded.

Section 9 of the bill directs Charlotte leaders to support the state-created commission.
Credit North Carolina General Assembly

What was left out of the debate is that one section of the bill appears to go well beyond clarifying. It requires Charlotte’s top leadership to “take all actions within their respective powers” to “secure for the commission the right and ability to fully exercise” its powers. And, it directs city leaders to seek approval for the commission from the FAA.

Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter opposed the bill and sent out a statement after its passage that city lawyers are reviewing its contents. For now, the court battle is still on.