Airport Expansion and Property Rights


by Steven Geoffrey Gieseler

This article outlines the debate in Princess Anne, MD, over how to acquire land needed to expand airport runways.  The government officials quoted in the article seem reluctant to use eminent domain, though it's made clear that the threat of such action is hanging over local property owners.

A somewhat related issue is what happens to property owners who get to keep their homes after runway extensions, but suddenly find the air above their houses filled with low-flying planes.  There's a doctrine called 'avigation takings' that addresses this, and in some jurisdictions it requires payment to the homeowners when the increased noise from the new air traffic results in a diminution in the value of the property. 

The matter is addressed in passing at the end of the linked article.  It will be worth watching to see if the avigation takings doctrine is implicated formally when the proposed expansion does happen.