Board of Supervisors Approves Resolution To Strike Out Eminent Domain Clause From 28E Airport Agreement
by Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI
Oskaloosa, Iowa – On Monday, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to amend the regional airport 28E agreement between Mahaska County, Oskaloosa and Pella. The amendment removes the eminent domain clause. Eminent domain refers to the government’s right to take private property for public use.
In order for the resolution to be put into effect, the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella also have to agree to remove the eminent domain clause as they are part of the 28E agreement. If either city turns down the resolution, then the amendment will have no power.
More than 40 people attended the meeting as the board spoke with South Central Regional Airport Agency member Joe Warrick and Snyder and Associates consultant, Jerry Searle for more than 35 minutes. However, the majority of the questions were answered by Searle.
Supervisor Mark Doland addressed Searle and asked questions regarding the proposed regional airport’s environmental assessment, the value of farmer’s land, and the use of eminent domain, among other topics. Doland expressed that he is not against the airport, but rather against the use of eminent domain.
After the discussion with Searle, Doland made a motion to approve the resolution to remove the use of eminent domain from the 28E agreement. Supervisor Mike Vander Molen said he thought it was “unlikely” the amendment would be ratified by the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella, but said he would support the motion. Vander Molen then made a motion to approve the resolution with an amendment that would modify the language to make it “clear” that all parties need to be in agreement in order to execute the resolution. The board unanimously approved the resolution.
Several individuals spoke at the public comments portion of the meeting.
“I just want to first thank the Board of Supervisors for that vote. It showed a lot of integrity to listen to the constituents who have spoken their mind,” said Rob Hammann, a landowner that would be affected by the selection of Site “B for the regional airport project. “I want to make sure, I know there’s representatives from the city and the board (SCRAA) here, and I want to make sure they understand that while this may seem as a formality, it’s important that they listen to what’s happening as well.”
Site “A” is the preferred site for the regional airport.
Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt also spoke at the public comments portion of the meeting. He expressed his support for the airport and said that if eminent domain were to be removed from the 28E agreement, that would mean the Federal Aviation Administration would back out of the project. The FAA is expected to fund up to 90 percent of the project. The remaining cost will be paid by the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella.
“The FAA is already paying 90 percent of this tab. They already told us in advance, ‘you guys have to be willing to do condmenations.’ So if we come back to them and say, ‘we’ve changed our mind, we don’t want to do condmenations,’ the FAA is going to be just as quick to say, ‘well that’s what we told you ahead of time, you’re out,’” Krutzfeldt said. “Well, what I’ve heard over and over again is ‘that we’re not against the airport. What we are against is the use of eminent domain. This would have the effect of killing that airport. Is that really what you want to do?”
On Monday night at the City Council meeting, City Manager Michael Schrock, who attended the Board of Supervisors meeting, discussed the resolution with the council members and said one of the Mahaska County supervisors had told him the decision to approve the resolution was “symbolic.” Schrock said he was disappointed the resolution got passed because it only slows down the process.
It is now up to the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella to decide if they want to strike out the eminent domain clause from the 28E agreement.
Watch the full regional airport discussion here:
The board also unanimously approved the following items on the agenda:
- Quarterly reports (Recorder and Veterans Affairs)
- Semi-annual report from the treasurer
- An agreement with Mahaska Health Partnership for public health services for fiscal year 2013-14
- Canceling outstanding disbursements for the fiscal year 2011-12
- Resolution to transfer county vehicles to the Emergency Management Agency (2007 Ford Explorer and 2003 Ford Crown Victoria)
The board also accepted bid increases for a county shop in Leighton. Since nobody increased their bid, the shop will be sold to the City of Leighton in the amount of $11,000. The set date for the public hearing of the Leighton shop is on Aug. 5 at 9 a.m, which is also the date and time for the next Board of Supervisors meeting.