Airport Authority praises key players in Stage 2 jet ban victory By JOHN HENDERSON, email@example.com June 17, 2005 The Naples Airport Authority on Thursday heaped praise upon a wide range of the community for the authority's recent court victory concerning its Stage 2 jet ban. Authority commissioners credited a wide range of citizens and public officials, both present and past, for the legal victory that is being reviewed by other airports throughout the country. The final exclamation point last week was placed to the authority's five-year battle with the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA announced that it would not appeal a federal court ruling declaring that the Naples authority's Stage 2 jet ban was reasonable. And the FAA declared that the airport is once again eligible to receive federal grants. The FAA has been withholding $3 million in grants due to the authority's insistence on prohibiting the older-model Stage 2 jets from using the airport. Airport officials are optimistic that the grant money will be flowing in during the coming months to swell its coffers. The authority recently shelled out more than $1.2 million of its money for a runway lighting project on the expectation that it would win the legal battle and be reimbursed. Some of the authority's tenants have been agitated about the fight, believing that they have been financing the legal bill through increased fuel charges. The authority has spent more than $3.4 million in studies and legal fees in the case. Authority member Eric West spent more than 10 minutes at Thursday's meeting lauding what he described as the many key players instrumental in the victory. He said a lot of the groundwork was laid for the legal victory by previous zoning decisions by the county and city. He praised the late Mayor Bonnie MacKenzie Loveday for making remarks to defend the Stage 2 jet ban that sounded similar to subsequent court rulings. She stated that the Stage 2 restriction is a logical, rational and reasonable noise-reduction measure, is not unjustly discriminatory and has the support of the community, West said. West also praised the Collier County Commission and Naples City Council, which filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the ban. West pointed out that the Naples council's brief was quoted in the District of Columbia federal appellate decision, which is a rarity. Airport Authority commissioner Richard Cobb recalled a meeting years ago at Telford Center in which property owners and airport users vented their concerns. He said the organization Citizens for Control of Airport Noise was formed after that meeting and, at first, there was a tense relationship between it and authority officials. He said the two sides eventually became unified as the Stage 2 fight dragged on. Other airports throughout the country have been closely watching the Naples case as they ponder their own Stage 2 jet bans. The federal ruling pleased the FAA in one sense, as it clearly stated that the agency has the right to withhold federal grants from airports that adopt an unreasonable Stage 2 ban. The court ruled that the Naples ban was reasonable, but it took the authority years to get to that point. And if another airport tried it, there is no guarantee a court would declare its Stage 2 ban reasonable. Sound Initiative, which describes itself as an airport industry-led coalition composed of government, environmental, and anti-noise proponents, is lobbying Congress to pass a law phasing out the use of Stage 2 jets. "Sound Initiative is pleased that the court has sided with Naples, and at least one airport out of hundreds has finally received some relief from Stage 2 aircraft," a press release on June 8 reads. "The sad fact, though, is that Naples had to spend $3.4 million to get to this point, even as it lost federal funding."