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The Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena Airport may have won the legal right last month to buy land from Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a replacement terminal, but don’t count on a new terminal opening anytime soon. That’s because the city of Burbank plans to appeal the Feb. 18 ruling by state Superior Court Judge Carl West against its attempt to block the acquisition. “We are prepared to oppose the deal all the way to the state Supreme Court,” said Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom. “It may cost us $2 million a year to do it, but we have a budget of $300 million, so we can and will fight on.” City officials have sought to block the airport expansion, which involves moving the facility to a 130-acre site owned by Lockheed Martin, over fears of increased noise and traffic. Further opposition campaigns will make it unlikely that groundbreaking on a new terminal would begin next year and open in 2002, as currently scheduled, according to the parties involved. The most recent ruling is a significant one, according to most land use experts, virtually guaranteeing that Burbank Airport will expand. The question is by how much. The City of Burbank and its supporters can use the appeals process as a negotiating tool to help impose limits on the proposed expansion. “We agree that an expansion and replacement of the current terminal is needed, and we’ve even agreed to expand the number of gates from the current 14 to 19,” said Ovrom. “But the Authority’s plan to take the terminal up to 27 gates and not to implement a mandatory curfew would add too much noise and traffic congestion. It’s up to the Authority now to compromise.” The Burbank Chamber of Commerce, whose membership includes several of the major studios located in that city, echoes Ovrom’s call to compromise. “The issue now is noise not control of the airport,” the chamber said in a statement.” The Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena Airport Authority, which manages the airport, says it has already compromised as much as it is able. “The things that Burbank is asking us to do are beyond our capability; they must be decided by the FAA,” said Authority President Joyce Streator, who is also a Pasadena City Council member. A lengthy appeals process is likely to impact business in the Valley. “The longer this goes on, the more passengers and companies in the Valley stand to lose as they continue to be forced to go to LAX because of the limited capacity at Burbank,” said Ted DeCinces, chief executive of C.T. DeCinces Construction Co. and co-chair of the airport committee for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. At particular risk, proponents say, are the fast-growing entertainment and new media industries concentrated in Burbank, Glendale and Studio City. These business require frequent travel, often at short notice. The impasse is likely to be a long one, according to Richard Simon, a partner in the Century City law office of McDermott, Will and Emery. “We believe that the Burbank Airport is a Valley asset, not a city of Burbank asset. Unless Burbank is willing to drop its opposition, this could be a long and hard legal road. They seem to have the ability to spend endless sums of their citizens’ money,” Simon said. In theory, groundbreaking could be delayed five or even 10 years, until Burbank exhausts its appeals. Judge West’s decision is the latest in a long line of court decisions in the 20-year saga of the Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena Airport terminal expansion effort. The current terminal, which is 60 years old, is outdated all sides agree and must be replaced. The Airport Authority which is made up of the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena successfully fought off attempts by the City of Los Angeles to block the expansion in the late 1970s and 1980s. Then, in 1994, a new city council came to power in Burbank that was opposed to the Authority’s expansion plans and the battle began anew.

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