Developer Sues City of Atlanta over Failure to Mitigate Airport Noise

AUGUST 23, 2011

A Virginia-based developer filed an action August 9 against the City of Atlanta for nuisance and inverse condemnation arising from a dispute over noise impacts of the City's expansion of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The City of Atlanta owns and operates the airport.

In early 2008 the Federal Aviation Administration approved the City's application for $154 million to mitigate the noise impacts resulting from airport expansion on residential properties near the airport. The City listed specific properties that it deemed would be affected by annual noise levels exceeding 65 and 70 decibels, and stated that owners would have the option of being bought out or having noise insulation installed.

Virginia One Development owns property near the airport that it had purchased in 2009 for construction of 68 town houses. Its property was one of several listed on the City of Atlanta's application for federal funds to mitigate noise impacts.

At the end of 2010 Virginia One requested that the City purchase its property, but the City refused.

Virginia One in its complaint to the court alleges that the City has failed to use the funds for the benefit of property owners identified in the City's application for funds. As a result, Virginia One claims, those properties now fall into the category of land around the airport that is classified as "incompatible" with the airport operation. "Due to the unhealthy noise levels these affected land owners have experienced or suffered decreased property values, inability to sell their properties, and inability to finance their properties in addition to adverse effects on their overall health."

In its answer to the complaint, the City denied almost all allegations and asserted several affirmative defenses aimed at Virginia One's standing to sue and the appropriateness of equitable relief.

Case information:

Court: Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia
Case No.: 2011CV204266
Counsel: Richard Hubert (contact Nicole Flannagan, 703.203.4655, nicole [AT]