A pair of lawsuits have been filed in connection with the closure of Dallas Bay Skypark in Hixson as a public airport.
Aviation Integrated Resources Inc., the owner of the small airport off Crabtree Road, wants Hamilton County Chancery Court to terminate a permanent access easement at Dallas Bay related to two other entities.
In a counterclaim, defendants Dodsero LLC and Battle Creek Power Sports LLC want the court to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting Aviation Integrated from terminating the easement that enables them to cross the airport runway and apron.
The suits come as the Tennessee Department of Transportation informed Aviation Integrated on Wednesday that its public license has expired, said John Osterhage, the company's president.
He said Friday that the airport, which caters to small planes, has ceased commercial operations, such as selling fuel and permitting the general public to land and take off. Osterhage said he'd hoped to operate Dallas Bay as a public airport into the summer.
Aviation Integrated attorney J. Michael Holloway said in court papers that the easement which was earlier granted was only intended to run so long as the airport was legally operating.
The suit said that if the airport ceases all airport operations, whether public or private, the access easement rights held by Dodsero and Battle Creek to access and use the airport terminate.
However, attorney Andrew Godbold, representing Dodsero and Battle Creek, said in court papers that the entities own three of six parcels that comprise the airport.
The suit said that Aviation Integrated "expressly created, conveyed and recorded perpetual easements in favor of each of these three tracts of land..."
It said that Aviation Integrated's actions have been undertaken so that it can close the airport under false pretenses of a license revocation and thereafter sell the property or otherwise participate in a residential development.
Godbold said that on his clients' property are two "good-size hangars. They've spent a lot money on those. They've been nothing but good neighbors."
Osterhage has blamed TDOT's Aviation Division and nearby homeowners who've refused to cut down tall trees near the one-runway airfield.
He said earlier that TDOT "has notified us that the trees on the approach end ... are a sufficient enough hazard to flight operations that they will revoke our airport operating license."
Osterhage also said TDOT informed the Dallas Bay owner that it would no longer fund runway work such as repairs and repaving for private airports.
"This is a major change as twice the runway was repaired, sealed, painted by TDOT since 2002," he said. "The estimated cost to repair is many, many times our annual revenue."
But TDOT said that the airport's license expired at the end of 2020 and that, per a communication earlier this month, the owner isn't seeking to renew it.
"TDOT is not revoking the airport license," said TDOT spokeswoman Rae-Anne Bradley in an email.
TDOT also said airports such as Dallas Bay, which are privately owned but public use, are eligible for state funding for projects that add to the safety of the airport and assist in meeting state licensing requirements.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.