Good Neighbor?

The city of Sioux Falls and the airport board certainly won’t qualify for State Farm’s good neighbor award with their latest easement requirement.

The new regulation, pushed by the board that runs the airport and approved by the City Council last spring, requires residents to sign a special easement to get a building permit. That’s causing headaches for homeowners planning even small tasks such as putting in a new fence. Worse than that, critics say, the agreement also takes away a person’s right to sue the airport over noise or pollution.

Airport managers say the easements are a “pre-emptive strike” meant to protect the site from the kind of lawsuits filed in other parts of the country. City officials note they are scaling back some of the more strict elements, including requiring easements for small improvements.

If you know the airport director you are probably not surprised over his warped idea of being neighborly but putting pre-emptive strike and good neighbor in the same paragraph is a bit much even for him. And if you think having to get special easements just to build a fence is a bit overboard, you’ll love this:

Jim Daniels, president of Daniels Construction, said the easement includes so-called “hold-harmless” language that absolves the airport from liability. That’s unusual for such agreements, he said.

When Daniels signs an easement allowing a gas line under one of his properties, he doesn’t give away his right to sue if it explodes. But the avigation easement precludes a property owner from suing, even if the airport or an airline is negligent.

First you have to shell out extra for the ridiculous easement for performing even the most minor of projects and then they make you sign away your right to sue? Nice…

Maybe the city and the airport board should spend more time working to improve one of the shabbiest airports in the area instead of working to cover their butts. The first place many visitors see when coming to the city is one of it’s biggest eyesores even after the current terminal renovations are completed. If you don’t believe me, just travel to Rapid City, Bismarck, or even Fargo to see just how bad our airport really is. But at least they won’t have to worry about lawsuits when they screw up.

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