The company owned by Northgate developer John Wellford is suing Yeager Airport for allegedly failing to fulfill financial and other obligations in agreements involving Northgate land to help remove obstacles and accommodate repairs from the 2015 collapse of Yeager’s runway safety-overrun area.
The complaint was filed earlier this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Wellford’s Corotoman Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, and Wellford filed for personal bankruptcy under Chapter 13 rules.
Part of the complaint involves a land-use agreement negotiated by Corotoman and Yeager officials for reducing the height of a knoll in the Coal Branch Heights area on Corotoman/Northgate property to ease climb-out restrictions for aircraft departing the Charleston airport.
According to Corotoman’s filing, airport officials agreed to excavate below the level required by the Federal Aviation Administration on Corotoman land adjacent to the knoll, and then grade and compact that land to make it suitable for development. That land was to have been at least 10 feet below the highest point of the obstacle-removal site, once work on it was complete.
After contractors hired by Yeager did not perform the extra excavation work, and after Corotoman later allowed Yeager to take stone and earth from Northgate property for use in rebuilding the collapsed safety zone, an amended agreement was negotiated, according to the filing.
That agreement called for the airport to pay Corotoman $3.5 million, to compensate for not reducing the elevation on Northgate land adjacent to the obstruction-removal site, and for not exchanging certain agreed-to land parcels, according to the lawsuit. The $3.5 million also compensated for taking fill material from Northgate to make safety zone repairs, according to the complaint.
By June 2015, Yeager had paid Corotoman $500,000 of the $3.5 million, but, in August 2016, Corotoman’s attorney was advised that the FAA had refused to approve the land-use and land-exchange agreements negotiated by Yeager and Corotoman to complete work on the obstacle-removal project. Yeager’s attorney told Corotoman’s attorney that, without FAA approval, the airport would not give Corotoman “any additional consideration other than what has previously been given,” according to the complaint.
Corotoman’s lawsuit seeks, among other things, actual and compensatory damages, attorney fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.
Corotoman and Wellford are named in lawsuits filed last December by the West Virginia Water Development Authority and Kanawha County Commission for allegedly collecting, but not forwarding to lenders, $1.56 million in rent payments from Ticketmaster.
The West Virginia Water Development Authority loaned the Kanawha-Charleston Regional Development Authority $3 million to develop a new Ticketmaster call center operation at Northgate to the Charleston area.
During the course of the 10-year loan, Corotoman failed to pass along more than 70 monthly rental payments from Ticketmaster, according to that lawsuit.