Agreement reached regarding airport land

Published 12:37 am Sunday, November 3, 2013

There is a settlement between the Lawrence County Commissioners and the Wilson family over the impending eminent domain lawsuit concerning land at the Lawrence County Airpark.

“We did come to an agreement with the Wilsons,” Commission President Bill Pratt said. “In my opinion, it protects the taxpayers of Lawrence County and satisfied the issues the FAA had with the safety of our air park. It’s pending an FAA opinion on the funds they have available.”

However, until the agreement is filed, it remains confidential.

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“At this point that is all I can tell you,” Pratt said. “I think all parties came away with something that they wanted.”

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 were at odds as far as the value of the acreage. The commission had offered $280,000. The owners said the land was worth $1.8 million.

That petition followed the county commission passing 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.

Over the past year the airport has also been the focus of a debate on its use with Pratt a vocal supporter, along with the Wilsons, on commercially developing all the acreage and disbanding the airport. However, the pilots association maintains the number of planes coming in and out on a monthly basic justifies the airport’s existence.

On Wednesday the commissioners and their attorney, Richard Meyers, met with Richard and Bill Wilson and their attorney, Richard Glazer, along with mediator Bill Santen in Santen’s Cincinnati office. The session lasted for more than seven hours.

If the mediation session hadn’t resulted in an agreement, the issue would have gone to trial.

“There was some give and take back and forth and luckily we came to an agreement,” Pratt said.