Court Rejects Request for Injunction to
Halt Expansion at Chattanooga Airport

JUNE 17, 2000

A request to halt the proposed expansion of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport was denied as "premature" Friday by a federal judge. "I am not dismissing the case," said U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar. "I'm refusing to grant the requested injunction."

Some 18 residents of the Brainerd Hills area had sought at least a temporary halt to the proposed expansion of the airport in a complaint filed last week in Chancery Court. (See Residents Ask Court to Enjoin Airport Expansion in Chattanooga.) The hearing was transferred to U.S. District Court here earlier this week.

Hugh Moore Jr., attorney for the Airport Authority, characterized the request as "grossly premature."

"We don't know what is going on with regard to plans, studies, and impact statements," said attorney Charles Dupree, who represented the resident group. "We know what they have said, and it is contradictory." However, Mr. Moore presented documents to show the airport authority held public meetings in September 1998 and March 1999 with "lots of people in attendance. According to the sign-in sheets from the meetings none of the plaintiffs attended either meeting."

Mr. Moore said federal regulations require the airport to have a master plan for 20 years and to update the plan every five years. A map was shown from the airport authority indicating noise contours or levels. "This reflects a 17-year noise level projection with an explanation," said Mr. Moore. "A decibel noise level below 65 is compatible or acceptable. Where the plaintiffs live is substantially outside the 17-year expansion and noise level area."

Judge Edgar said, "If your clients are concerned about the noise with a runway expansion, there will have to be FAA approval in advance. There will be environmental impact statements and other hoops to jump through. There will be ample opportunity for citizen input."

He asked Mr. Dupree what he and his clients were seeking. 'You haven't shown me they have violated anything," he said. "I don't want to be here every six months," said Mr. Dupree. "Our concern is we don't want property purchased and construction contracts let with the project reaching a point of no return."

Mr. Dupree said the greatest concern of his clients is that purchases and expenditure or commitment of money not reach a level where it is "a done deal." But the judge said, "If the required environmental impact isn't acceptable, then the plan won't be approved, no matter how much land the airport has purchased."

Source: Chattanooga Times & Free Press