Removing IDB land would destroy airport’s utility, FAA says
by Emily McLain
Dec 04, 2013 | 1410 views |  0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home
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The council held a phone conference with Keafur Grimes, program manager with the Federal Aviation Administration, to answer questions concerning the possible removal of 10 acres erroneously included in the city’s Airport Layout Plan that is actually owned by the Industrial Development Board.
Bob Crisp/The Daily Home

The council held a phone conference with Keafur Grimes, program manager with the Federal Aviation Administration, to answer questions concerning the possible removal of 10 acres erroneously included in the city’s Airport Layout Plan that is actually owned by the Industrial Development Board.
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SYLACAUGA – Removing acreage included in an expansion plan for the Municipal Airport, though not owned by the city, would severely limit the airport’s potential for growth, a federal representative told the City Council during its meeting Wednesday.

The council held a phone conference with Keafur Grimes, program manager with the Federal Aviation Administration, to answer questions concerning the possible removal of 10 acres erroneously included in the city’s Airport Layout Plan that is actually owned by the Industrial Development Board.

The 10-acre property, which FAA is willing to purchase at market value, was marked in the airport plan for the placement of additional hangars in 2003. Another 30 acres of IDB land surrounding the airport was marked for airport use by a previous city council, but that was never conveyed to FAA, Grimes said.

A parallel taxiway was built with the intention of building hangars on the land in question, Grimes said, and removing that property would negatively impact the airport and its potential to receive FAA grants.

“You would kind of say the airport can’t do anything without going on the other side of the airfield, and going on the other side of the airfield would cost millions of dollars, and you would almost have to incur that yourself, because FAA would not want to rebuild something we’ve built once that you destroyed by taking away the utility of the airport,” Grimes said.

Councilman Rocky Lucas asked what liability Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon Consultants, the engineering firm that prepared the city’s ALP, holds for not checking the title before including the land, and Grimes said cities agree to certain ‘grant assurances’ when they accept FAA money – two of these assurances being that they hold good title to the land that will be developed and that they keep the ALP updated at all times.

“FAA doesn’t go out looking to see whether you’re doing what you say,” Grimes said. “We trust that you’re doing it until we find out otherwise.”

The phone conference with Grimes was intended to help clear up council member’s concerns to help determine the best solution to this conundrum. FAA has asked for a decision as to whether the land will be purchased or removed from the ALP by Dec. 20, though the council plans to ask for an additional 45 days, while the IDB has asked via a resolution for all of its property to be removed from the ALP.

During the public comment portion of Wednesday’s meeting, citizen Mike Landers said it is time for the city to resolve this issue. He said liability should fall on the engineers who prepared the ALP, and the city should not have to pay for a revision (which would cost about $60,000 to update the entire plan or $20,000 to simply remove the IDB-owned land, City Clerk Patricia Carden has said).

“If anybody screwed the pooch on this deal, it’s Barge Waggoner,” Landers said. “Now, the question becomes, is Barge Waggoner incompetent? Or did Barge Waggoner rely on misinformation given to them by somebody. The real issue is to go back to Barge Waggoner, tell them we’re not paying to redraft the Airport Layout Plan; they’re the ones that made the mistake, and they will fix it for free or they’re going to get sued. This discussion needs to end. There’s no positive to come out of this. It continues to stir the pot, and the airport doesn’t own the property. The city doesn’t own the property that has been mistakenly included in the ALP. Case closed.”

IDB is not interested in selling the land.

In other business, the council:

O Renewed the garbage contract with Advanced Disposal at the current rate of $11.95 per residential unit for a period of up to one year with the right to cancel upon 90 days notice.

O Approved a request from the Tree Commission to dedicate an oak tree on the City Hall lawn in memory of the late Mayor Sam Wright, and approved reimbursement of $150 to the commission for a plaque purchased for the tree.

O Awarded a bid of $44,798 to Summit Waterproofing for building shell waterproofing at City Hall.

O Authorized about $46,000 for Wilsonville Valve repairs to repair two of the three storm water pumps in the City Hall basement. These pumps are critical to prevent flooding.

O Authorized rebidding a project for new plumbing at the police department.

O Held a public hearing for and accepted the close-out of the Community Development Block Grant project.

O Approved a special-use permit for AT&T to co-locate on a telecommunications tower on Blythe Lane.

O Authorized Fire Chief Matt Missildine to apply for a 2014 FEMA grant of up to $70,000.

O Approved expenses for four firefighters to attend a large animal emergency response course in Auburn in January. Cost is $85 each, plus meals.

O Authorized payments of $50,317 for November and financial statements.

O Heard Mayor Doug Murphree thank everyone involved in Tuesday’s Christmas parade and thank the Beautification Council and Dawn Stevens for providing the tree on the City Hall lawn.

O Heard Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Bates thank everyone involved in the Christmas parade.

O Heard Councilman Tom Roberts acknowledge the new signs on U.S. 280 pointing to Sylacauga’s downtown business district.

O Approved the 2014 holiday schedule.

Contact Emily McLain at eadams@dailyhome.com.