Here’s the specific sub-section of Senate Bill 1925 authorizing the creation of the Airport Authority.

The heart-rending bit, at least to me, is 116‑274, “General powers.”

(a) An authority created under this Article has all powers that a city or county has under Articles 1 through 7 of Chapter 63 of the General Statutes and, in regard to financing capital expenditures and operations, shall have such powers as are delegated to or conferred upon the constituent institutions or the University of North Carolina Health Care System. Notwithstanding other provisions of law, both regulations adopted by an authority under this Article and development regulations adopted by a county or municipality under Article 18 of Chapter 153A or Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes shall be applicable to land owned by and the approaches to land owned by an authority created under this Article. In the event the regulations conflict, the more restrictive regulation applies.

UNC-CH has been granted sovereign powers normally reserved to municipalities. Setting this precedent, even in what appears to be the constrained case of building an airport to support NC-AHEC, carries terrible portent.

PART IV. ALLOW THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA TO CREATE AN AIRPORT AUTHORITY

The rest after the fold:

SECTION 4.1. G.S. 116‑11 is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

“(12c) The Board of Governors may create one airport authority to support the missions of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or the University of North Carolina Health Care System. An authority so created shall be a political subdivision of the State. The territorial jurisdiction of the authority shall be the county in which the the airport may be established under G.S. 116‑271(c). Article 33 of this Chapter provides for such authorities.”

SECTION 4.2. Chapter 116 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Article to read:

“Article 33.

“Airport Authorities.

“§ 116‑271. General provisions.

(a) As provided by G.S. 116‑11(12c), the Board of Governors may create one airport authority to support the missions of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or the University of North Carolina Health Care System. An authority so created shall be a political subdivision of the State. The territorial jurisdiction of the authority shall be the county in which the airport may be established under subsection (c) of this section.

(b) To create an airport authority under this Article, the Board of Governors by resolution shall:
(1) Name the authority.
(2) Describe the input from affected local jurisdictions.
(3) Consider eligibility for State and federal funding.
(4) Find that the authority is essential to support the missions of The University of North Carolina.

(c) An airport established under this Article may only be established in Orange County. The sole purpose of the authority is to resite Horace Williams Airport and operate the resited airport.

(d) No member of the General Assembly may serve on an airport authority created under this Article.

“§ 116‑272. Single or multi‑institution authority membership.

(a) Where an airport authority is created to support the mission of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it shall consist of 15 members appointed as follows:

(1) One member shall be appointed by the General Assembly for a three‑year term upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in accordance with G.S. 120‑121;
(2) One member shall be appointed by the General Assembly for a three‑year term upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in accordance with G.S. 120‑121;
(3) Eight members shall be appointed to three‑year terms by the Board of Governors upon recommendation of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provided that four of the initial members so appointed shall serve terms of three years and four shall serve terms of two years;
(4) Three members shall be appointed by the board of commissioners of the county having territorial jurisdiction over the authority as provided by subsection (b) of this section; and
(5) Two members shall be appointed by the municipalities within that county as provided by subsection (c) of this section.

An airport authority may also be created to support the mission of one constituent institution and the University of North Carolina Health Care System. If the airport authority is created to support the mission of one constituent institution and the University of North Carolina Health Care System, then the eight members appointed by the Board of Governors shall include an equal number of representatives of the constituent institution and the University of North Carolina Health Care System. If it is impossible to appoint an equal number from each, then the Board of Governors shall determine a fair representation on the airport authority from each such entity.

(b) The board of commissioners of the county with territorial jurisdiction over the authority shall appoint three members. One of the initial members shall be appointed for a one‑year term, one for a two‑year term, and one for a three‑year term. Successors shall be appointed for three‑year terms.

(c) The municipality with the largest population within the county having territorial jurisdiction over the authority based on the most recent decennial federal census shall appoint one member for a two‑year term. The municipalities with the second and third largest populations within that county based on the most recent decennial federal census shall alternately appoint one member for a two‑year term, with the second largest municipality making the initial appointment.

(d) All vacancies on the authority shall be filled by the governing board authorized to make the initial appointment, and the appointment is for the remainder of the unexpired term, except that vacancies in appointments made by the General Assembly shall be filled in accordance with G.S. 120‑122.

“§ 116‑273. UNC Health Care System authority membership.

(a) Where an airport authority is created to support the mission of the University of North Carolina Health Care System, it shall consist of 15 members appointed as follows:

(1) One member shall be appointed by the General Assembly for a three‑year term upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in accordance with G.S. 120‑121;
(2) One member shall be appointed by the General Assembly for a three‑year term upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in accordance with G.S. 120‑121;
(3) Eight members shall be appointed to three‑year terms by the Board of Directors, provided that four of the initial members so appointed shall serve terms of three years and three shall serve terms of two years;
(4) Three members shall be appointed by the board of commissioners of the county or counties having territorial jurisdiction over the authority as provided by subsection (b) of this section; and
(5) Two members shall be appointed by the municipalities within that county as provided by subsection (c) of this section.

(b) The board of commissioners of the county with territorial jurisdiction over the authority shall appoint three members. One of the initial members shall be appointed for a one‑year term, one for a two‑year term, and one for a three‑year term. Successors shall be appointed for three‑year terms.

(c) The municipality with the largest population within the county having territorial jurisdiction over the authority based on the most recent decennial federal census shall appoint one member for a two‑year term. The municipalities with the second and third largest populations within that county based on the most recent decennial federal census shall alternately appoint one member for a two‑year term, with the second largest municipality making the initial appointment.

(d) All vacancies on the authority shall be filled by the governing board authorized to make the initial appointment, and the appointment is for the remainder of the unexpired term, except vacancies in appointments made by the General Assembly shall be filled in accordance with G.S. 120‑122.

“§ 116‑274. General powers.

(a) An authority created under this Article has all powers that a city or county has under Articles 1 through 7 of Chapter 63 of the General Statutes and, in regard to financing capital expenditures and operations, shall have such powers as are delegated to or conferred upon the constituent institutions or the University of North Carolina Health Care System. Notwithstanding other provisions of law, both regulations adopted by an authority under this Article and development regulations adopted by a county or municipality under Article 18 of Chapter 153A or Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes shall be applicable to land owned by and the approaches to land owned by an authority created under this Article. In the event the regulations conflict, the more restrictive regulation applies.

(b) In addition to the powers granted by subsection (a) of this section, an authority created under this Article has the following powers:

(1) To sue and be sued in the name of the airport authority, and all pleadings served upon the airport authority shall be served on the chairperson or secretary of the airport authority.

(2) To expend funds appropriated to it from time to time for airport purposes and to expend funds received by the authority from fees, charges, rents, and dues arising out of the operation of the airport, the facilities, improvements, and concessions located thereat or operated thereon.

(3) To establish, construct, control, lease, maintain, improve, operate, and regulate an airport on lands acquired by it with buildings necessary to accommodate all types of business to operate an airport, runways, taxi ramps, parking ramps, and any equipment to operate an airport, to have complete authority for rules and regulations over all airport property for the control of all types of vehicular traffic, mobile or stationary, and pedestrian traffic with respect to areas or roadways not under the control of the Department of Transportation and any rules adopted by the airport authority for property exclusively under its control, and to have conjunctive authority to work with and cooperate with all duly constituted law enforcement agencies to enforce rules established by the State of North Carolina. The penalty for violation of rules established by the airport authority shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days. All rules and regulations so adopted by the airport authority shall be recorded by delivering true copies thereof certified by the chairperson and secretary of the authority to the Secretary of the Board of Governors and to the Secretary of State.

(4) The authority may acquire by purchase or gift any property for the purpose of establishing, extending, enlarging, or improving an airport. The authority does not possess the power of eminent domain over property held on July 1, 2008 by a tax‑exempt Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) organization organized for educational purposes. In all other cases, the authority possesses the power of eminent domain and may acquire property by eminent domain for the purpose of establishing, extending, enlarging, or improving an airport. In cases where the authority may exercise the power of eminent domain, the authority is declared to be a local public condemnor under the provisions of Chapter 40A of the General Statutes and in exercising the powers of eminent domain shall follow the procedures of Article 3 of Chapter 40A of the General Statutes. Title to the property and the right of immediate possession shall vest pursuant to subsection (a) of G.S. 40A‑42. If property acquired by condemnation contains a burial ground or graveyard, then it shall be lawful for the airport authority after 30 days’ notice to the surviving spouse, or the next of kin of the deceased buried therein, or the person in control of the graves, if any are known, to remove the body interred therein and reinter the same in some cemetery in the same county. If no surviving spouse or next of kin or person in control can be found, then the airport authority can advertise for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the county of the intended removal of the gravesite, and the removal shall be conducted under the supervision of the clerk of the superior court for that county or his or her representative, and the expense of such removal shall be borne by the airport authority. The airport authority may dispose of any real or personal property belonging to it according to the procedures described in Article 12 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes.

(5) To lease to other entities for a term not to exceed 20 years and for purposes not inconsistent with airport purposes or usage, real or personal property or both, under the supervision of or administered by the airport authority.

(6) To contract with persons, firms, or corporations for terms not to exceed 20 years, for the operation of passenger and freight flights, scheduled or nonscheduled, and any other plane or flight activities not inconsistent with airport operations and to charge and collect reasonable fees, charges, and rents for the use of such property and services rendered in the operation thereof.

(7) To operate, own, control, regulate, lease, or grant to others the license to operate amusements or concessions for a term not exceeding 20 years.

(8) To enter into contracts to pledge as security the property of the airport authority.

(9) To pledge any lease agreement to which it is a party as security for any loan.

(10) To adopt and use a seal.

(11) To contract with the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States of America or with the State of North Carolina or with any of the agencies or representatives of either of said governmental bodies relating to the grading, constructing, equipping, improving, maintaining, or operating of an airport or its facilities, or both.

(12) To receive refunds of sales and use taxes under G.S. 105‑164.14(c).

(13) To accept grants, loans, or contributions from the United States, the State of North Carolina, or any agency or instrumentality of either of them, or from any county or other municipality, and to expend the proceeds for any purposes of the authority.

(14) To accept grants, loans, or contributions from nonprofit organizations and to expend the proceeds for any purposes of the authority.

(15) To adopt organizational bylaws that shall include, but not be limited to, provision for election, duties, and terms of a Chair and Secretary.

(16) To borrow money in accordance with Article V of Chapter 159 of the General Statutes, provided that all powers and duties conferred on the Local Government Commission shall for purposes of this section be held by the Board of Governors.

(c) The authority shall enjoy governmental immunity, however, the authority may contract to insure itself and any of its officers, agents, or employees against liability for wrongful death or negligence or intentional damage to persons or property or against absolute liability for damage to persons or property caused by an act or omission of the authority or of any of its officers, agents, or employees when acting within the scope of their authority and the course of their employment. The members of the authority shall determine what liabilities and what officers, agents, and employees shall be covered by any insurance purchased pursuant to this provision.

Purchase of insurance pursuant to this provision waives the authority’s governmental immunity to the extent of insurance coverage for any act or omission occurring in the exercise of a governmental function. By entering into an insurance contract with the authority, an insurer waives any defense based upon the governmental immunity of the authority.

If the authority has waived its governmental immunity pursuant to the foregoing provisions of this section, any person, or if he dies, his personal representative, sustaining damages as a result of an act or omission of the authority or any of its officers, agents, or employees occurring in the exercise of a governmental function, may sue the authority for recovery of damages. To the extent of the coverage of insurance purchased pursuant to this section, governmental immunity may not be a defense to the action. Otherwise, however, the authority has all defenses available to private litigants in any action brought pursuant to these provisions without restriction, limitation, or other effect whether the defense arises from common law or by virtue of a statute.

“§ 116‑275. Cessation of operation.

In the event of cessation of the operation of an airport established under this Article, or the abandonment of any of the property acquired hereunder for airport purposes, the title to such real or personal property or rights under any existing lease shall vest in The University of North Carolina, and upon the sale of any property after cessation of operations, the proceeds therefrom shall first be distributed pro rata to the constituent university member or to the University of North Carolina Health Care System to reimburse their or their affiliated foundations’ investments in the authority and thereafter shall vest in the University.”

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