Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Votes to Separate Ground Lease, Hangar Fees; but Commissioners Are Still Tackling Insurance Issues for the Airport in Fernandina Beach

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Votes to Separate Ground Lease, Hangar Fees; but Commissioners Are Still Tackling Insurance Issues for the Airport in Fernandina Beach

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH - The waiting list for those wanting to build hangars or lease land at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport will be getting shorter.

Commissioners voted on Jan. 16 to separate out rental fees for ground leases and new hangars being built at the airport, and a new ground lease policy from a proposed set of commercial fees.

Officials said that will allow work to get started on the improvements.

The rates are effective now. City-built hangars are going through permitting; construction is expected to start in late spring. The city is preparing the land for ground leases, and private parties wanting to build hangars are being encouraged to start the permitting process as well so they, too, can begin construction in late spring.

The rest of the proposed commercial fees, including changes to rates, charges and leasing policies, which drew ire recently from pilots at the airport, went back to the city's Airport Advisory Committee for a closer look.

Committee Chairman Andy Curtin said on Jan. 22 that the committee will recommend to city commissioners the insurance carried by the owners of private planes - which they must have to lease a hangar at the airport - is sufficient and holds the city harmless from any lawsuits.

"The lease already stipulates that we cannot engage in any commercial activity out of a T-hangar," Curtin said. "And there is no such thing as insurance for airplane mechanics or flight instructors. There aren't any policies they can buy. They simply do not exist."

Airport Manager Richard Johnson, however, said insurance policies differ and that there are policies available for mechanics.

"It's still being sorted out. There's a lot of confusing information. I really don't know the answer. I know what we're trying to is get more information. What the city commission and staff are trying to do is protect the city, he said.

City Commissioner Ron Sapp had expressed concern earlier this month that some flight instructors and mechanics carried no insurance while City Manager Michael Czymbor said the city's insurance consultant had been asked to look into Fernandina's risks if private pilots at the airport do not carry insurance. …

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