Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Hung Out
A Broward business owner says the county shut his company down and then took over his business. He wonders how could they do that? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- For 27 years, Atlantic Coast Aircraft Storage rented out these hangers at North Perry Airport to private plane owners. It used to pay the Broward County Aviation department $50,000 a year to rent the land where the hangers sit.
As we first reported, the county refused to renew Atlantic's lease for this year, killing the company. But 7 News has now learned the aviation department didn't immediately close the hangers. Instead, it started collecting rent from plane owners who kept their aircraft there.
David Clark: "It is extremely offensive, especially since they put us out under false pretenses that our buildings were unsafe and falling apart, but then they let all these people stay in here in unsafe buildings."
Steven J. Grey was one of David Clark's tenants.
Carmel Cafiero: "So you went from renting from David Clark?"
Steven J. Grey: "Correct."
Carmel Cafiero: "To renting the very same building?"
Steven J. Grey: "Correct."
Carmel Cafiero: "From Broward County?"
Steven J. Grey: "Yeah."
Grey says he and other plane owners were called to a meeting with the aviation department.
Steven J. Grey: "They pulled us aside separately. 'Hey, how much were you paying?'"
He says he was given a temporary lease for the same hanger he rented from Atlantic.
Steven J. Grey: "I was given a letter to be here and sign up by this date and basically they were taking over and they did take over."
But those plane owners have now been told they have to be out by the end of the month.
Steven J. Grey: "It's weird. I have never seen anything like this before. I mean, I don't know who is running things over there."
Grey says options for plane owners are limited. He says other hangars rent for much more money and he may be forced to start storing his plane outside, in an area called "the ramp."
Steven J. Grey: "My planes have been through numerous hurricanes here. I've had no damage to my plane. Leaving my plane on the ramp, I have had damage."
Clark believes the county should let him have the hangers back and let him stay in business.
David Clark: "We would love to have the buildings back and come back in and do like we said we were going to do, come in and clean it up, paint it and put these people back in a home, but the aviation department won't talk to us."
A spokesman did talk with us and says the aviation department still intends to tear down the hangers.
Greg Meyer: "We have these buildings that are behind us and all around us. They're made of aluminum. They have aluminum roofs. They're not strong enough and we're not in the business to repair them or put them in the condition that they need to be."
Greg Meyer says the only reason the aviation department rented the spaces out was to help the tenants and it is going to refund all the money it collected.
Greg Meyer: "We are not interested in collecting rent from these people or taking anyone's business away. It's unfortunate that what happened with Atlantic Coast. It's unfortunate that we couldn't work with that in that they did not meet the terms of our agreement."
Carmel Cafiero: "The Aviation Department says it is washing its hands of Atlantic Coast and is talking with three developers about future projects for the property."
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