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Chesapeake wants to annex airport land

CHESAPEAKE — The village of Chesapeake could get bigger if the officials get their wish.

At its April meeting Chesapeake Village Council unanimously voted to annex into the village properly about two miles west of the current boundary.

That means all Chesapeake schools and about half of the Lawrence County Airport would become part of the village. Right now the line stops at Triangle Park by the exit from U.S. 52 into Chesapeake.

“It is about time,” Chesapeake Mayor Dick Gilpin said. “A lot of people have wanted to annex. We thought it might be an opportunity to do that.”

Village officials are exploring annexation options and will have a public hearing Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Chesapeake Middle School.

“This is just to get people’s input,” Gilpin said. “I don’t think anybody has annexed before. This is all new water for all of us.”

Part of the proposed annexation is acreage that is makes up a portion of the airport. The future of that facility is at the heart of discussions on whether the county needs an airport or should allow the land to be commercially developed. The 78 acres that makes up the airport was given to the county in the 1930s with the stipulation that it is used as an airport.

Should it cease to be an airport for one year, that land would revert to the assigns of the original conveyors, North Kenova Holding Co. and Mabel and C.L. Ritter.

For years Richard Wilson, one of the heirs of North Kenova Holding Co., has pushed for the land to be commercially developed.

The county is in the middle of an eminent domain lawsuit to acquire an additional 47 acres at the site so it can cut down trees at the ends of the runways that are causing safety hazards.

Despite the lawsuit at least one commissioner is also looking into the possibility of a development.

“The county is considering marketing the airport for sale,” Commission President Bill Pratt said last week. “We do have an estimated appraisal of $8.5 million. If the property was no longer an airport and some person bought that land and developed it, the county would stand to gain from real estate taxes. If a business came in and sold goods like a Target and Home Depot, the county could stand to gain from sales taxes that the county has missed out on.”

If that were to happen, Chesapeake would get a portion of the property tax from any development.

Gilpin said an advantage of the annexation would be that the schools would be under the jurisdiction of the village police.

“We would take in all schools and that way we can provide some kind of security,” he said. “We can do drive-throughs at night.”