Wake County, North Carolina Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley ruled today in favor of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority in a lawsuit filed by activists who oppose the land-lease agreement between the Authority and Wake Stone Corporation.
In the ruling regarding the agreement that could expand an existing quarry on airport property, Judge Shirley found that, “as a matter of law, RDUAA has the statutory authority independent of the Cities of Raleigh and Durham and the Counties of Wake and Durham to enter into the Lease, and therefore, summary judgment in favor of Defendants is proper.” The judge also found that:
• “The original RDU Charter gave the RDUAA board complete authority over the airport. Nothing in the amendments that followed reflects an intent by the legislature to diminish that authority. Plaintiffs’ argument runs contrary to a reasonable reading of the legislation and ignores the General Assembly’s broad authority to the RDUAA board.”
• “As a matter of law, RDUAA has the statutory authority independent of the Cities of Raleigh and Durham and the Counties of Wake and Durham to enter into the Lease, and therefore, summary judgment in favor of Defendants is proper.”
• “Furthermore, the Court concludes that the Lease is not inconsistent with any grant or agreement under which the airport is held. The phrase ‘grant or agreement’ must refer to the grants and agreements by which RDUAA operates an airport under the guidance and regulation, and with financial contributions of the Department of Transportation/FAA under the Federal Airport Act. The FAA has approved the industrial/quarry use designation of the Property and maintains that its approval is not necessary for RDUAA to lease the Property.”
• “Because no federal funds were used to acquire the Property and because the Lease is not subject to the FAA approval, the Lease does not violate any federal laws.”
The case was dismissed with prejudice, which prevents these claims from being refiled in the future but does not prevent an appeal.
“We are pleased the judge affirmed RDU’s authority to execute the land-lease agreement with Wake Stone,” said John Kane, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “The agreement is conservatively projected to generate at least $24 million for the airport at a time when it has a nearly $2 billion funding shortfall for critical airport projects. The revenue from the quarry expansion will help RDU keep pace with the community’s aviation demands.”