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Bob Backus was doing what any businessman would do.An array of planes are tied down under cover at Cottonwood Municipal Airport, calling its hangars home. Recently, the FAA found the airport to be non-compliant with regulations that accompany federal grants.

Cottonwood officials were trying to spur economic development that would generate tax revenue and create jobs.

But capitalism and good intentions notwithstanding, federal officials say the result  — a succession of sweetheart lease deals for property at the Cottonwood Municipal Airport — violates land-use regulations for airports that receive government grants.

At stake is hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding for the airport, money needed for airport safety, capacity, security and environmental concerns.
The Federal Aviation Administration has told city officials they must develop a plan that will remedy the situation.

The original deadline for the plan was Tuesday, July 15 — 60 days from when the agency notified airport manager Morgan Scott of the violations — but  the city was granted an extension until Friday, Sept. 19, according to FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

The FAA’s 12-page report recounts a series of deals over more than two decades that sometimes make it appear the leaseholders were in the position of power and the city was coming hat in hand seeking to make upgrades to the airport.

The original lease was with Cottonwood Airpark Inc. in 1983, a deal that “effectively gave the tenant control of the airport for a period of 100 years,” FAA Airports Compliance Program Manager Tony Garcia wrote in the report, which was based on an inspection conducted in May 2013.


To read the full story, see the Friday, July 18, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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  • Cactus Bob

    Mr. Backus was operating under several false assumptions about economic development. Supply does not create demand, even at sweetheart prices. Effectively he was denying Cottonwood taxpayers maximum income, while making himself popular with tenants. Sigh.

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