Saratoga Airport Board’s Wednesday meeting was a hit among attendees, as far as such a thing might be possible.
Besides routine business and discussion of installing security cameras at Shively Field, the most time spent at the nearly two-hour meeting was the discussion of the airport board’s hangar leases with lessees.
Last month, town attorney David Erickson was scheduled to address the airport board and members of the public about changes to the lease agreements for hangar space at the airport. The leases offered are for land only; pilots are responsible for building their own hangars once they have secured a lease of the land.
Early last year, changes in the lease terms concerned some hangar lessees. Specifically, changes in one article of the lease contract, article 11, confused many lease holders and worried them that they could possibly have their hangars seized, as well as anything inside the hangars at the end of the lease period.
Under the prior lease agreement, article 11 said any building on the leased land was property of the lessee and was to be removed from the land 10 days before the termination of the lease, unless the lease was renewed. If a lessee did not remove the building and other items, it would be considered abandoned property. In that situation, the lease specified that the airport could remove the property at the owner’s expense.
In the new lease agreement, article 11 stated that a lessee only owned the building or other property on the leased land as long as the lease was in force. It went on to say: “Upon termination of this lease, any hangar or other building located on the on the leased premises shall become the property of the lessor, unless a new lease has been entered into for the leased premises, at which point any hangar or other building shall become the personal property of the new lessee.”
Several of the hangar owners in attendance took issue with the wording of the new article, saying it was overly broad and could be interpreted as owners losing their property at the end of a lease.
Erickson reviewed the language of the article—as well as several other documents and portions of the lease—and called the new version of article 11 “gibberish,” pointing out that the structuring of the clause appears to countermand language in the airport standards, a document that is intended to be the final set of rules under which the airport is run.
Erickson said he was available to the airport board to review the contracts and ensure that they are written to protect the interests of the airport board, but also that they are consistent with other regulations and rules governing airports.
Erickson also recommended the lease agreement be changed to reinstate old article 11.
The airport board voted to pay Erickson to review the contracts for consistency and legality. After that review, he will present his findings to the board who can then move forward with adopting contracts that, many hope, will be far clearer for both the lessor and the lessees.
One attendee at the meeting took two opportunities to thank Erickson and the airport board for the meeting, saying it had been one of the most fruitful airport board meetings in “years” and that he, as a lessee, felt much more at ease about leasing space at the airport.
The next meeting of the airport board will be 1 p.m., March 8 at the Saratoga Town Hall building.