Cramer keeps up the Fight to Keep his Business

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Cramer keeps up the Fight to Keep his Business

I received the following from Stan Cramer at Cramer Airport Parking. I thought the issue important enough to post it here. You can contact Stan by email here  This is a heinous example of the government taking a person’s business, not for the "better good" but to reduce competition. Aren’t their legal organizations that would help Stan at a time like this?   

An Overview of Cramer Airport Parking’s Fight Against
Eminent Domain 

 Stan Cramer, a lifelong resident of the Harrisburg area, purchased a 17-acre piece of
property on West Harrisburg Pike in Lower Swatara Twp. in 1967.

 After following his father into the family car dealership
business for many years, Stan recognized the need for a small alternative
parking lot for people traveling out of what then was known as Harrisburg York Airport.
Stan decided with great service – offering a free carwash and providing
customers with extra help with their baggage and van service for their cars –
he could build a loyal customer base. Today the business serves about 50,000 customers a year.

Stan is continuing to grow the business. He has gradually
paved the land to increase the size of his parking lot.  

The Issue of Eminent
Domain

Stan first became familiar with eminent domain six years ago
when Harrisburg International Airport
seized 5.5 acres of the Cramers’ land. That land, taken through eminent domain,
remains undeveloped.

  In 2003 Stan began
hearing rumblings of another issue with his land. He believes the airport
authority wanted him out of the parking business so there would be a monopoly
on airport parking. Others have suggested the authority did so because Middletown Area School District proposed taxing airport parking businesses, something the Susquehanna Area
Regional Airport Authority (SARAA), which runs HIA, opposes. If Stan was no
longer in the parking business, SARAA could argue the school district was
unfairly singling out one business for its tax.

 Stan also believes SARAA took steps to try to make certain
no one else took over his parking business should he decide to sell it. In late 2003 SARAA passed a resolution changing the way it
collected money from airport parking facilities. Instead of charging $337 per
month/2003, the authority said it would take 10 percent for their fee.

It said that Cramer Airport Parking would be grandfathered
into the old system, however, if Stan sold the business, the 20 percent fee
would be issued This made it difficult for Stan to sell his business to anyone
knowing they would owe more fees to SARAA. The fees increased from $4,044 in 2003 to $70,112 in
2004 for Cramer.

At around the same time, Fred Testa, the executive director
of SARAA, asked Stan if he was planning to retire and expressed interest in
buying his land. Stan said he had no intention of retiring.

Then in 2004 Stan’s
wife, Lynn, was at a meeting with Testa about the rent a car businesses at the
airport. The Cramers own a Budget Rent A Car franchise at the airport. After
the meeting Testa told Mrs. Cramer he wanted the Cramers out of the parking
business and if they did not sell their land to the airport he would seize it.

Stan and Testa then had a few meetings to discuss the issue
and Testa said he would offer Stan money for the land but the Cramers had to
get out of the parking business. Stan decided he did not want to sell his land
to SARAA.

On March 30, 2005, SARAA notified the Cramers it was taking
the parking lot land through eminent domain. Cramer hired an attorney and
currently is fighting the move in the Dauphin County Court.

At the same time, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett
began looking at the issue saying SARAA is violating state and federal
antitrust laws. On September 8, 2005, after a thorough examination, Attorney
General Corbett filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court to stop SARAA from
taking the land of Cramer Airport Parking. The complaint states that the authority’s action to acquire
a competing business would create a monopoly and likely force customers to pay
higher prices and receive fewer services by eliminating customer choice.

The attorney general’s office also said SARAA has no
legitimate intentions for use of the piece of land..

Unfortunately, the federal case was dismissed by the
District Court and has been appealed by the Attorney General. The Attorney
General has also filed a request to intervene in the Dauphin County.

Last year the airport also used SARAA funding to create a
flier that misrepresented the Cramer eminent domain issue and required its paid
employees to hand it out to parking customers. When a reporter asked SARAA
about the flier, the airport immediately stopped handing it out.

The Cramer case has created regional and statewide
attention. Stan was interviewed by many reporters and was asked to speak at a
Pennsylvania House of Representatives committee hearing on eminent domain. National organizations,
such as the Castle Coalition, a property rights organization, have used the
Cramer Airport Parking case as an example of the unfair nature of eminent
domain.

Currently Stan and his family are waiting for the courts to
rule and hoping to retain their business. 

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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