County waiting on FAA

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, September 9, 2014

CHESAPEAKE  — Four months and counting and the county still doesn’t have a definite date when the Federal Aviation Administration will release its part of the settlement the county needs to cover the cost of an eminent domain lawsuit.

That means a court-ordered penalty of 8 percent on the $490,000 price tag on acreage at the Lawrence County Airpark is quickly adding up to an extra $13,691. That will be the interest leveled by the end of September on top of the $49,000 that is the county’s match.

Add to that close to $7,000 in fees from the attorneys of the North Kenova Holding Company, the party the county sued to acquire the land.

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“It looks like (the FAA is) trying wrap things up to where we would be able to get the money,” Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs said. “There are going to be just a couple more final hoops to get the money released. But they gave me a timetable of 60 days back in April. I don’t go on timetables with them.”

On April 28, a judgment stated that the county was to pay $490,000 to the Wilson family for land they own at either end of the runways. The county wanted to acquire the land to clear away trees and other hazards that were causing unsafe conditions at the request of the FAA.

In January of 2012 the county filed an eminent domain lawsuit against the Wilsons to acquire that property. In the fall of 2013, a price of $490,000 was negotiated with both sides in agreement. Ninety percent of that will come from the FAA, but the county must come up with the 10 percent match.

The interest assessment followed a motion filed by Richard Glazer, attorney for the Wilsons, saying the judgment was to be paid “forthwith” and asked that a 10 percent interest penalty be leveled. Glazer’s request was reduced to 8 per cent interest per year.

He also asked that attorney bills of $6,987.50 be paid by the county for 21.5 hours spent on the lawsuit at $325 an hour.

Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper ordered an itemization be submitted for those attorney bills. When that was sent to the county, Cooper approved those bills.

“(FAA approval) has to go to a board,” Boggs said. “I look it to happen in no more than 60 days. They are sending us papers that we have to fill out and send back. When we get the confirmation, we can draw down 80 to 90 percent of a grant. They are sending us some special papers to fill out. When it comes to the federal government, you can’t put a timetable on it.”