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Control Of Charlotte Airport Once Again At Issue In NC Senate

Roger Sarow

A committee of North Carolina lawmakers has passed legislation to end the impasse over who controls Charlotte Douglas International airport.

The question of who controls the airport has been tied up in court, since last year. State lawmakers created a commission to take over, and strip the Charlotte city council of direct oversight. The city sued in response, and everyone, including the judge, is now awaiting a decision from the Federal Aviation Administration—which has refused to decide.

The bill compels Charlotte’s city leaders to tell the FAA that the commission can take over.

“We passed a law that the city should have, I believe, complied with. They chose instead to take it to court,” Senator Ruth Samuelson, a Mecklenburg County Republican, told the Senate Finance Committee. “Since then we have tried to work with them, we have not made any progress, so therefore we thought maybe we’d help get it through court by clarifying the questions the FAA has.”

In declining to decide, the FAA wrote that it wasn’t clear if the commission would be part of the Charlotte government. The bill clarifies it would.

"This is an ironic piece of legislation," said Senator Josh Stein, a Wake County Democrat. "We are saying the purpose of this is to clarify that the city owns it, for the sole purpose of depriving the city for the ability to control its airport."

Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter quickly issued a statement objecting to the bill. “I would ask that the General Assembly stand down from this new legislative proposal while local discussions in Charlotte continue,” the statement reads in part.

Charlotte airport commission chairman Robert Stolz was not available today for comment, according to an assistant.

Updated at 3:36 with more information.