FAA wants more documents in airport suit

Published 10:17 am Friday, March 21, 2014

Providing the Federal Aviation Administration with a letter summarizing the scenario of the eminent domain lawsuit against owners of property adjacent to the Lawrence County Airport could be the last step needed before the county will know how much the FAA will pay to settle it.

“(The FAA) is minus a piece of paperwork,” Bill Nenni, chair of the airport advisory board, told the Lawrence County Commissioners at their Thursday meeting. “We should go forth with the administrative settlement.”

Nenni then presented the commission with a draft letter detailing the county’s efforts to acquire a 4.91 acre parcel at the west end of the runway and an access easement at the east end. The acreage was owned by the Wilson family, who had originally owned the property where the airport is now located. The land was needed to cut down trees deemed a safety hazard.

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An appraiser for the county valued the acreage in the lawsuit at $280,000 while one for the Wilson family said the land was worth $1,815,000. If the suit had gone to trial, a jury would have determined how much the property was worth.

Both parties negotiated an agreed-upon price for the land, which has yet to be disclosed including in the letter to the FAA.

“We have been advised by the attorney (Richard Meyers of Chesapeake) to not disclose it at this point,” Nenni said.

In a unanimous motion the commissioners approved the draft be sent to the FAA’s program manager.

“This is the last document we need to submit,” Nenni said. “We need to do an eminent domain rather than settle a lawsuit.”

Nenni also encouraged the commissioners to approve and sign the pre-application for the Airport Runway Safety Area Obstruction Removal where the federal share would be $100,710 and the county’s share at $11,190.

“This money may be used to purchase the property,” he said. “We can change the whole scope.”

County Treasurer Stephen Burcham reported that first half property tax collections have come in to date at $18.15 million compared to $17.38 million collected for the first half in 2013. Approximately 9 percent of that goes to the county’s general fund.

In other action the commission:

• Appointed Mike Boster to the county storm water task force for a three-year term;

• Approved right of way permits for David Viglianco to enter County Road 120 South to install drainage pipes and AEP to enter County Road 70 to install utility poles;

• Received the weekly dog warden report where no dogs were destroyed, 25 were adopted or went to rescue and none were redeemed by owners.