Saturday, March 17, 2012

Indianapolis Airport Stomps On Free Enterprise With Court Action

Airports are governmental units that oversee aviation infrastructure in this Country.  But, in the most un-American, anti-capitalism, move I can think of, the Indianapolis International Airport has decided to overreach that role and try to kill private development on privately owned land that is a compatible use - but one that poses a few dollars of competition to the airport.  Our airport is asking the Courts to overturn the recent MDC decision to modify the legally established zoning within Ameriplex that would permit the development of a Fast Park Ride & Relax facility (see "Yesterday's Zoning Case - Its About Far More Than a Parking Facility").

I got a copy of the document the airport filed with the Courts on Wednesday and uploaded it to Google Docs in three sections (Court Filing A ---  Court Filing B ---- Court Filing C).

I read the filing late yesterday afternoon and evening and thought I would wait until tomorrow morning to pen this blog entry.  But, I find my anger at my own government to be so great, that I sit here in my living room penning this in the wee hours of the morning instead.

Adding insult to injury, the airport hired zoning attorney Brian Tuohy to flash this figurative middle finger to the community.  Tuohy has been working to kill the Fast Park project for months for his previous paying customer - the Indy (really Plainfield) Park Ride & Fly facility west of the airport.  Doubtlessly laughing all the way to the bank, this national chain of unimaginative parking lots now has our airport covering its bills; taking up their effort to kill off competition.

The filing is a sing-song repetition of zoning minutia that seems written for the appreciation of a near catatonic person rocking in a corner.  It mystifies me how a zoning attorney of so many years of experience as Tuohy, could include so many items that misstate the actual facts about the zoning within Ameriplex and the MDC's authority to modify the site plan associated with that zoning; zoning, by the way, that was legally and undisputedly established for this particular block in 2008.  The nut of the airport and Tuohy's argument is that the MDC cannot modify a legally established zoning category called 'commercial special' or 'CS' for short.

For those who have been so lucky in life as to not be familiar with the geeky aspects of zoning in Marion County, CS is a common zoning category for industrial parks and strip malls.  It was designed to allow flexibility in the design of what is on the ground and what will be developed as a mixture of intensities and types of businesses.  This court filing attempts to kill off airport competition from the private sector on private property, and they do not care that they put all CS zoned property in Marion County at risk in the process.  Such is the unmitigated greed of our own government here in Indianapolis.

The airport claims that they stand to be harmed by the loss of parking revenue.  The 800 pound gorilla, whose ONLY authority is to provide aviation infrastructure, now wants to stop an off airport parking facility that the airport estimates will cut into the airport's profits by about $4 million a year.  While I use the word 'profits', it is really that the airport wants to be able to lower what it charges the airlines to use the taxpayer provided aviation infrastructure.  In a worse case scenario, it MIGHT cost each passenger using the airport one extra dollar for a round trip ticket.  That scenario ignores the fact that a huge fraction of the airport's use of the runways is cargo, not passenger, flights.  It also ignores the fact that the airport is growing and much of the Fast Park business will come from that expansion; perhaps shaving a miniscule degree off the arc of that growth curve, not actually cutting the dollars now taken in by the airport from those passengers who park their car on airport property.

Airports all over the country have off airport parking.  I even Googled Moscow's airport once, and they have off airport parking that provides an option to the flying public.  This attack on free enterprise - this overreach by government - this expansion beyond its mandate - this attack on my home community and all of central Indiana - comes ironically from a Republican President of the Airport Board who is a developer himself.  Mike Wells is an owner of REI, which develops large properties all over the area, many of which must use the CS zoning designation.  He is so eager to exact this revenge on the taxpayers and free enterprise, that he is willing to put his own developments at risk.

I'll go into all of the zoning techno-geek layers in future postings.  But for now, know that a major precedent is being set here in Indianapolis.  That is the unilateral declaration of a monopoly by our government for a business that is compatible with the function of providing aviation infrastructure, but which does not require the government to be provided.  It is an attack on our capitalist system that even the Russians do not deem necessary.


patriot paul said...

I'm reminded of the discount chain, Cub Foods, coming to town and the outcry from the other existing chains. Cub foods cut back because the existing chains had to remarket its prices on staple goods to compete. No one likes competition until you have to compete! The little guy has just as much right to be in the marketplace as the next, and let him succeed or fail with market conditions; not government manipulation. Looks like another case of crony capitalism and protectionism.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Can you imagine a business fighting a zoning matter because it would allow competition? How much laughter and derision would that evoke?

For the government to terrorize legitimate business in the private sector like this, is unconscionable.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the Indianapolis Airport just began offering parking discounts for Spring Break.

Last time I recall a change in airport parking rates was when the new airport CEO raised rates and eliminated discounts for handicap parking to get more revenue to offset the increased operating costs and additional debt from the new midfield terminal.

Press Release:

Nicolas Martin said...

There is not an ounce of justification for governments being in the airport business. Private businesses, including the airlines, should construct and run their own airports.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when government is run like a business or its mandate is to generate revenues, not provide services. Government is not a business; and if it can be run like a business, then is should be a totally private entity - and in this case, airports should be - and obviously there should be no TSA, etc.

The revenue generating mandate is why the Department of Code Enforcement brags about how many people they cited for the NFL, instead of how they have provided better services to the citizens.

Sharon said...

I would love to see another parking option at the airport. Indy Park Ride and Fly has damaged cars (including mine) and then refused any responsibility for it - see Angie's List comments.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the airport authority speak up when a Subway restaurant was constructed adjacent to the proposed private airport parking lot? The airport serves food. This must compete and take away dollars from the airport, right?