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Eminent domain trial postponed

The trial in the eminent domain case of the Lawrence County Commission over acreage it wants at the Lawrence County Airport has been postponed.

Originally, the case was to go before a jury in August.

“Basically we are rescheduling to do some mediation,” Richard Meyers, attorney for the commissioners, said. “It is too early to go to trial. We will discuss settlement.”

In 2012 the commission filed a petition seeking to acquire 47 acres at either end of the runways. The property is owned by North Kenova Holdings LLC and North Kenova Development Co. Inc.

The parties are at odds as far as the value of the acreage. The commission has offered $280,000. The owners say the land is worth $1.8 million.

On Jan. 20, 2011, the county commission passed a resolution stating there was a public need to expand the airport to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations including maintaining runway safety and keeping the air space clear.

The property is part of acreage owned by the Wilson family, who deeded the adjacent land to the county in the 1930s on the condition that it be the site of a county airport. At any time the county wants to close the airport the land reverts back to the Wilson family, according to a clause in that deed.

Both Richard Wilson, whose family owns the North Kenova companies, and Commission President Bill Pratt have publicly pushed to shut down the airport and commercially develop the entire acreage. However, recently the FAA has said since the county used federal grants for upgrades at the site that now obligates the county to keep the land as an airport.

A case management conference is scheduled for Oct. 16.

“We have to report in early October to the judge on the status of the case,” Meyers said.