background image
Page 130
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 7
case would allow the intervention anyway.
The big question, Kay told me, was wheth-
er we were allowed to wallow in the joys of
legal discovery.
"What exactly does that mean?" I asked in
one of our many telephone conversations.
"Will the judge allow us to ask questions of
LCRA, staff, anyone else involved? If so, we
can request documents, file requests for ad-
missions, and hold depositions."
"Why wouldn't they give us a chance to ask
"This case has been on the docket for
awhile. We're late in voicing our objection,
and the judges might not want to drag out the
"And if they say no?"
"Let's wait and see."
A Small Win
A few days later, on November 16, 2007, Kay
attended the pretrial hearing in which Admin-
istrative Law Judge, Lilo Denise Pomerleau,
ruled in our favor, allowing us our day in court.
At the same time, Judge Pomerleau hinted
that she wasn't convinced we had a valid ob-
jection. She referenced a 1978 case involving a
proposed power line by Southwestern Electric
Power Company, running near the Houston
County Airport, in which the PUC decided that
the mere speculation that a runway might be
added in the future was insufficient grounds
for altering the proposed transmission line
whose need was immediate. In short, while
the judge allowed us to intervene, she wasn't
convinced we had a case.
We either had a bona fide runway in place
now, or we didn't, and, of course, we didn't.
The judge also discussed a second trans-
mission line case in which a utility company
wanted to build a power line across a future
residential development. In this case the de-
veloper lost because future residential land
use was too speculative to alter the proposed
transmission line. According to Judge Pomer-
leau, it was one thing for Bird's Nest Airport to
complain about the power lines upsetting the
existing airport and quite another to grumble
that the proposed route would upset future
In the meantime, Kay had researched the
1978 case involving Southwestern Electric
Power Company and believed it was easily
distinguished from our current situation. At
the time, a county judge testified in the case
that the transmission line would "prevent
construction of an east-west runway" at Hous-
ton County Airport. Yet, there was no testi-
mony that an alternate runway was needed
or planned.
"I'm pretty confident," Kay told me.
"That we'll win the case?" I asked.
She exhaled into the phone, slowing things
down and choosing her words before speak-
ing. "That I can persuade the judge that a
new runway at Bird's Nest Airport is needed,
engineered, and will soon be built. In other
words, our runway isn't speculative."
"And if she wants to see an actual asphalt
runway on the ground?"
"That's not likely."
"What if?" I asked.
"In your written testimony, just be sure to
emphasize your `firm' plans with respect to