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Randel v. Parkland Homeowners Association, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 15, 2018

VERNON RANDEL, individually and on the behalf of others similarly situated, and, CHERYL RANDEL, individually and on the behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PARKLAND HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., a Colorado nonprofit corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Michael E. Hegarty United States Magistrate Judge

         This case arises out of a private airpark located near Erie, Colorado, where Plaintiffs are residents and members of Defendant Parkland Homeowners Association, Inc. (the “HOA”). Plaintiffs claim that the HOA failed to complete and file a particular form to alert the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) of changes to the airpark. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), ECF No. 11. For the reasons that follow, I dismiss this case on Rule 12(b)(1) grounds.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Facts

         The following are factual allegations made by Plaintiffs in their Complaint, which are taken as true for analysis under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) pursuant to Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002 (10th Cir. 1995). I include Plaintiffs' descriptions of the FAA and the regulations that govern it, even though those allegations are legal and not purely factual, to provide appropriate context.

         Defendant, the HOA, is a Colorado corporation in good standing located in Erie, Colorado. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs Vernon Randel and Cheryl Randel live in Erie and are residents and members of the HOA. Id. ¶¶ 1, 2. The HOA is responsible for management and operation of common real property jointly owned by its members. Id. ¶ 3. A portion of the property is designated for use as a private airfield known as “Parkland Airport.” Id. The houses are situated on a single runway, with each homeowner allowed to maintain a hangar that is accessed through a taxiway system. Id. ¶¶ 69-70.

         The FAA is a subdivision of the United States Department of Transportation and was created by statute under 49 U.S.C. § 106. Id. ¶ 7. The FAA has the sole authority to develop plans and policies for the use of navigable airspace within the United States. Id. Under the rules promulgated by the FAA, an “airport” is defined as “an area of land or water that is used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, and includes its buildings and facilities, if any.” Id. ¶ 9 (quoting 14 C.F.R. § 1.1). FAA regulations require mandatory reporting for proposed construction and alteration to airports. Id. ¶¶ 11-12 (citing 14 C.F.R. § 157 (“Part 157”)). Part 157 mandates that changes must be reported through a 5010-3 Form and a 7480-1 Form. Id. ¶¶ 16-17.

         From 1972 to 1978, a developer known as Park Land Associates worked to establish a sport airpark with a single runaway in Erie. Id. ¶¶ 41-53. In 1972 and separately in 1976, Park Land Associates submitted 7480-1 Forms to the FAA to establish the Parkland Airport. Id. ¶¶ 42, 46. On March 2, 1978, the Articles of Incorporation for the HOA were executed, and on March 10 the documents were filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. Id. ¶ 56. On March 31, 1978, the same incorporators adopted the By-Laws of the HOA. Id. ¶ 57. The HOA was authorized to collect member fees to manage and maintain the Parkland Airport. Id. ¶ 58.

         In 1978, the HOA planned to alter the Parkland Airport to expand the runaway and use a dirt surface. Id. ¶¶ 61-63. A letter from the FAA requested that the HOA submit a new 7480-1 Form with all proposed alterations to the Parkland Airport that differed from the 1976 Form. Id. ¶ 66. Neither the FAA nor Plaintiffs have any record of a new 7480-1 Form being submitted after 1976. Id. ¶ 67. On December 5, 1978, the FAA issued a determination to the HOA approving the 1978 modifications and informed the HOA that the FAA had performed an aeronautical study for the new proposed features of Parkland Airport; the determination also included recommendations for mitigating existing obstacles and approach vectors. Id. ¶ 68.

         Since 1978, the HOA has permitted numerous alterations and modifications to the Parkland Airport. Id. ¶ 74. Some of these modifications include: changing runway length and width, changing runway surface types, permitting construction that restricts line of sight minimums on runways, modifying and adding landing aids, and changing the proximity of runway and taxiway surfaces to the public access road. Id. ¶ 74(a-i).

         There is no record of any additional 7480-1 Forms filed by the HOA with the FAA since the determination on December 5, 1978. Id. ¶ 71. Parkland Airport is an airport within the definitions contained in Part 157 and is subject to the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder by the FAA. Id. ¶ 72. Parkland Airport also falls under the definition of “planned or proposed airport” for which notice of construction or alteration must be reported to the FAA under Part 157. Id. ¶ 73.

         A dispute arose regarding the use of Taxiway E, which is partially owned by Plaintiffs, as an unrestricted runway. Id. ¶¶ 76-90. After numerous complaints, the HOA advised its members that it was an emergency landing strip only. Id. ¶¶ 79, 90. But the HOA's leadership changed and in 2017, the HOA made alterations and changes on Taxiway E without submitting a 7480-1 Form to the FAA. Id. ¶¶ 90-91. Plaintiffs contacted the Denver Flight Standards District Office (“FSDO”) to voice their concerns about safety and the changes to Taxiway E. Id. ¶ 93. FAA representatives from the Denver FSDO advised Plaintiffs that the FAA's enforcement arm was concerned about airspace safety issues caused by the new changes. Id. On September 14, 2017, the FAA Safety Team Program Manager and the FAA Airports District Office Manager advised Plaintiffs to direct the HOA to file the required 7480-1 Form regarding the changes. Id. ¶ 94. Plaintiffs provided written notice of these violations of FAA rules and regulations to the HOA. Id. ¶ 98.

         Plaintiffs demanded that the HOA report changes to the FAA, but the HOA refused. Id. ¶¶ 98, 100. The HOA's refusal to comply with the federal law will expose Plaintiffs and other members of the HOA to civil enforcement action, monetary penalties, and restrictions on property use that contravene the property's intended purpose as an airport. Id. ¶ 106.

         II. ...


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