Make us your home page

Hillsborough County Aviation Authority hires attorney to review building permit issue

The agency that runs Tampa International Airport has hired an outside attorney to review how its staff determined whether structures were too tall to be built in the airport's flight path.

David Smith, a land-use law expert and former Tampa city attorney, will sift through documents and interview Hillsborough County Aviation Authority personnel, including executive director Louis Miller. Smith also will review proposed changes to the airport zoning rules.

"It is imperative that the integrity of the Authority processes going forward are protected, and I believe an independent review is justified," wrote Gigi Rechel, the agency's general counsel, in a memo to board members.

Throughout his 14 years as executive director, Miller has decided who gets permits for antennas, new buildings, cranes and other structures that exceed federal height limits around Tampa International and three general-aviation airports in Hillsborough County. All projects must be deemed safe by the Federal Aviation Administration before reaching Miller's desk.

But a 1977 Florida law calls for airports in the state to have a board of adjustment to decide if projects built higher than federal limits should proceed. Rechel told the St. Petersburg Times last week that she was concerned about the authority's compliance with the law and recommended that Miller move to create a board in 2006.

The authority didn't have a board of adjustment when Miller took over as executive director in 1996. George Bean, the agency's boss for the previous three decades, also made decisions on the height permits himself, Miller said.

On Thursday, Miller recommended changes to the airport height zoning regulations that include designating the five-member authority board as the airport zoning board, which rules on permits for structures exceeding federal height limits.

Board members will hold a public hearing on the proposal and vote on it at their March 4 meeting.

In other business, the board voted to require its approval for the aviation authority to demolish any building on airport property. Last month, Miller was criticized for consulting only one current board member — chairman Al Austin — before deciding to tear down the former Continental Airlines reservations center.

The demolition was put on hold after the Moffitt Cancer Center expressed interest in renting the 30-year-old, two-story structure.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Hillsborough County Aviation Authority hires attorney to review building permit issue 02/04/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 11:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?


    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. Whatever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]