Proposed Texas Law Backs Addision in Fight with Airport's Commerical Neighbors

Identical bills pending in the state House and Senate would protect an Addison ordinance governing access from adjacent properties to the town's general aviation airport.

The town has been battling with Addison Airport's so-called "through-the-fence users" - those who own bordering property and need access for commercial or recreational purposes - over access fees and policies for about six years.

Seventeen airport neighbors sued the town over its first "through-the-fence" ordinance, saying it violated the state transportation code.

Mitchell Madden, an attorney for the property owners who sued, previously said the town's fees violated state law because they were based on the size and value of a user's property.

Also, the ordinance didn't link the fee structure to the cost of airport upkeep and made no distinction between recreational and commercial users, he said.

A Dallas County judge agreed and struck down the ordinance in 2005. The town's appeal of that ruling is pending.

In November, the town adopted a revised ordinance that addressed the judge's concerns, said city spokesman David Margulies.

The new ordinance charges a flat annual fee of $750 for recreational and incidental business users. Commercial users pay 8 cents per square foot of property, the amount town officials calculated as the upkeep cost per square foot of airport property.

The proposed legislation would give Addison the authority to set fees and regulations exclusive of other provisions in the transportation code, making it harder for someone to challenge the new ordinance, Mr. Margulies said.

"Through-the-fence" users argue legislation was tailored to suit the town's needs and gives officials unrestricted power to set fees and deprive them of using the airport.

The bills are pending in committee. They are House Bill 2955 by Rep. Jim Jackson of Carrollton and Senate Bill 1462 by Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano.

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