Residents Sue Home Builder for Failure to Disclose Airport Expansion Plan

APRIL 18, 2001

Residents of the Edinburgh subdivision north of Piedmont Triad International Airport have filed lawsuits, alleging their home builder failed to reveal plans for a third runway at the airport.

The proposed runway has resulted in declining property values for Edinburgh residents since the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority made the plans public in April 1998, according to 42 lawsuits filed since Friday in Guilford County Superior Court. "Since that date, home values in the Edinburgh subdivision have not only failed to appreciate, but have in fact decreased steadily and are continuing to decrease," the suits say. Edinburgh, less than a mile north of the airport, has 136 homes priced from $150,000 to the low $200,000 range, according to its Web site.

Plaintiffs are seeking more than $10,000 each in damages against Westminster Homes Inc. and Westminster Homes of North Carolina Inc. for "fraud" and "unfair and deceptive trade practices," according to the suits.

Representatives for Westminster Homes did not return a message Tuesday at their main office in Greensboro.

In many of the suits Edinburgh residents said Westminster representatives failed to mention the planned third runway or denied it was in the works. According to some of the suits, representatives "falsely stated to plaintiffs that (the home builder) had no knowledge of any plans the airport had for expansion." The suit contends Westminster officials knew of those plans from meetings with airport officials before developing Edinburgh.

The planned $100 million runway, part of the Airport Authority's master plan since 1968, awaits approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting an environmental impact study. It is expected to be built by 2005 to coincide with the proposed construction of the FedEx cargo hub. The 9,000-foot runway would be parallel to the airport's main runway.

Ted Johnson, executive director of the Airport Authority, said Westminster officials had seen the master plan, which showed the third runway, perhaps in 1992 or earlier. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In seeking damages, some residents contend their homes will ultimately be condemned by the Airport Authority or will suffer diminished property values.

Jones said any impact the third runway will have on Edinburgh will be addressed in the FAA study, which is expected to be completed by early summer.

Suorce: News and Record