NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · GEORGIA · Freedom of Information · Aug. 15, 2005
Airport must release aviation logs requested by residents
Aug. 15, 2005 · DeKalb County violated the Georgia’s open records law by keeping aviation logs secret, a DeKalb Superior Court judge ruled last week.
Residents of the neighborhood surrounding DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta have fought the airport’s proposed expansion for nearly two decades, filing more than 100 requests for airport records including the date and time of aircraft landings, aircraft weights, noise levels and administrative procedures and regulations. The county refused to disclose the information, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Any agreement with the FAA “should not be used to subvert the letter and spirit” of the state’s open records law, Judge Robert J. Castellani ruled. The open records law is to be “broadly construed, consistent with its purposes, to favor openness of public records,” and “exceptions are to be narrowly construed.”
Activists, led by resident Charles “Mickey” Feltus, sued the county in 2004 to compel release of the documents. Feltus and his neighbors suspect that the county allows oversize aircraft to use the airport, violating federal rules and increasing the noise level of planes descending over the neighborhood.
Brandon Hornsby, Feltus’ attorney, said the group will outline in a letter to the county what they feel needs to be disclosed under the court decision to avoid further litigation. If DeKalb and the airport do not comply, the activists plan to ask for a permanent injunction preventing the county from refusing any future records requests.
(Feltus v. DeKalb County, Media Counsel: Brandon Hornsby, Atlanta, Ga.) — JM