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Airport takes land by eminent domain
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Warren County Memorial Airport has taken control of the land it acquired by eminent domain for expansion.
Since 2008, airport officials have been attempting to negotiate with its neighbors, the Whitlocks, to acquire 6.16 acres. Discussions on price failed and the full Warren County Commission last year approved legal steps to condemn the land.
“In January, we received written possession to the property,” said airport manager Richard Crawford. “We are currently looking at the project for that. I know the attorneys and Mr. Whitlock will go to court and finish this at a later date. It could be a year or it could be four years, but we have possession of the land. It’s ours and we’re moving forward.”
The information was presented Tuesday to county Economic and Agricultural Development Committee with members Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Gary Prater and Tyrone Sparkman. They also reviewed the proposed airport budget for fiscal year 2016-17.
Within the budget is the cost for a maintenance hangar/storage shed the airport failed to obtain in last year’s budget request.
“We need that badly,” said Airport Commissioner Dr. Mike Roberts. “We have tractors, bush hogs, other equipment to keep the grounds up. Right now, we’re doing our maintenance out on the asphalt or on the grass and you know how difficult that can be.”
The cost of the building is approximately $180,000. The airport is requesting $94,000 from the county in this year’s proposed budget. The remainder would be paid using airport funds.
“Essentially, the county is going to get an $180,000 building for half price,” said Roberts.
Currently, the airport is using one of its hangars for storage.
“If you are tying up one of the spaces that you could rent, that doesn’t help revenue,” said Lee.
The airport’s total budget for 2015-16 was $2.2 million. This year, the request is for $1.9 million.  
Committee members unanimously approved the budget as requested. It will be sent to the county Budget and Finance Committee for consideration.