HUNTINGTON — Lawyers for the Cabell County Commission and the Robert Newlon Airport are speaking out after leases, subleases and amendment documents were made public.
Following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from The Herald-Dispatch on Monday, the documents were given to the newspaper by the county’s attorney handling the matter.
Ancil Ramey, the attorney for the commission regarding the airport, emailed the documents to the newspaper Tuesday with comments regarding them.
“There have been multiple leases and subleases over the years and unapproved and illegal subleases and amendments,” Ramey said in the email.
Ramey said the 2006 documents are the effective lease and sublease. He also included an amendment made in 2008.
“There is a 2008 purported amendment to the sublease, but because there was never a corresponding amendment to the prime lease, the 2008 amendment is invalid,” Ramey said. “Also attached is the illegal 2017 sublease, again adopted without the required corresponding amendment to the prime lease.”
Last week, the Cabell County Commission approved two resolutions to move forward with litigation regarding the Robert Newlon Airport property near Lesage.
The commission called the subleases and amendments illegal and says they were not approved, which is required. Through litigation they are seeking to terminate all the leases, dissolve the Cabell County Airport Authority, shut down two businesses connected to the airport and force Robert Newlon Airport manager Carl Bailey to surrender the property and its improvements to the county.
Thomas Scarr, attorney for Robert Newlon Airport Inc. and its manager, Carl Bailey, responded to Ramey’s comments Tuesday.
“I agree with some things he said, I don’t agree with other things and some are just hyperbole,” Scarr said.
Scarr said everyone agrees the 2017 sublease, although it was recorded, is not valid.
“I don’t know if I would call it illegal,” he said. “It’s either effective or not effective, and the 2017 (sublease) is not effective. They know it was recorded by mistake.”
Scarr said there were many leases and subleases regarding the property long before Bailey became involved with the airport.
“They were from the early ’80s and the ’90s that didn’t involve Carl,” he said. “It’s important to note, during all of that time a county commissioner was on the Airport Authority board and the county’s lawyer drafted all documents and leases.”
Scarr also agrees with Ramey that the 2006 documents are the effective lease and sublease.
However, Ramey says the subleases and amendments illustrate the irresponsible manner in which he says the Airport Authority has conducted its business for years, culminating in the impending litigation.
“Suffice it to say that Mr. Bailey and the Authority have repeatedly executed documents without the Commission’s required approval to attempt to change the terms of Mr. Bailey’s sublease unilaterally,” Ramey said in the email. “The purpose of these changes was to create contractual rights that Mr. Bailey did not have that he now asserts he had in the earlier lease documents. All of which begs the obvious question of why repeatedly attempt to amend documents giving you rights that you now say you already had?”
Scarr repeated that any documents, leases or subleases were done with a county commissioner as a member of the Airport Authority and prepared by the County Commission attorney.
“If they had a problem, then they should have known about it, considering there was a commissioner on the Airport Authority board and their lawyer prepared all the documents,” he said.
The lawyers disagree on the fair market value of the property and how it was appraised, the use of businesses on the property or those they believe are connected to the property and how each has handled offers made by the commission for Bailey to purchase the property and Bailey’s counter offers.
Ramey added that he believes Bailey is wrong to say the commission is violating his lease.
“Mr. Bailey has no lease or any other contract with the Commission to be violated, and Mr. Bailey is inaccurately representing the terms of his sublease with the Authority,” he said in the email.
Scarr responded by saying that Bailey has done everything according to the effective 2006 lease and sublease.
“Carl Bailey has fulfilled all of his obligations in the lease and sublease, and they should honor it,” he said. “To argue the effective lease and sublease are invalid is wrong, and it was agreed to and ratified by Cabell County Commission and prepared by commission’s attorney.”
With the passage of the resolutions by the commission last week, Ramey can now begin litigation against Bailey and the Airport Authority.