City Council Denies Request To Remove Eminent Domain Clause From Regional Airport 28E Agreement
By Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News
Oskaloosa, Iowa - The Oskaloosa City Council unanimously denied the amendment request by Mahaska County to remove the eminent domain language from the regional airport 28E agreement on Monday night.
On July 15, 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 removed the eminent domain clause from the agreement. However, in order for the resolution to be put into effect, the cities of Oskaloosa and Pella also had to agree to remove the eminent domain clause as they are part of the 28E agreement. If either city turned down the resolution, then the amendment has no power. Eminent domain refers to the government’s right to take private property for public use.
Before voting on the request, the council received six comments in favor of approving the eminent domain amendment during the community comments section of the meeting. Tim Van Maanen from Leighton said he has collected 750 signatures from the city of Oskaloosa that support striking out the eminent domain clause from the 28E agreement. He also talked about an email received by Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock, Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, South Central Regional Airport Agency Chair Jim Hansen, Pella City Manager Mike Nardini, and Pella Mayor James Mueller sent by the Iowa Federal Aviation Administration Representative, Scott Tener, on Aug.6.
“It says very clearly that the power of eminent domain for a public airport is not a requirement to still get federal funding. So that does not have to be,” Van Maanen said. “He (Tener) goes on to say that, ‘it’s not very prudent to invest in an airport unless we are assured that the sponsor has the means and abilities to see the project to completion. We will require all property be acquired before federal funding will be considered, in order to protect the interest of our taxpayers.’”
On the July 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, Krutzfeldt said that if eminent domain were to be removed from the 28E agreement, that meant the FAA backing 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. Krutzfeldt said the following at that July 15 meeting:
“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.’ 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?”
Supervisor Mike Vander Molen also spoke throughout the community comments portion of the meeting.
“When the county (Mahaska) approved the proposed amendment, I thought at that time it was largely symbolic. I was always under the impression, and I had been told that, the FAA required that eminent domain language actually be in the agreement and that power be given to the airport board (SCRAA),” Vander Molen said. “But in mentioning the email that Tim (Van Maanen) discussed, Scott Tener at FAA said ‘that’s not the case. You can proceed without that language being in there.’”
Vander Molen further discussed removing the eminent domain clause.
“I think it’s important to note that Iowa Code still provides the county with that eminent domain power, and even if you took it out of the airport agreement where a non-elected board holds it, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors would still have that power per Iowa Code. I think it’s worthy of having further discussions of what this could look like,” Vander Molen said. “I think we can make this a better community project if we take that language out of there.”
Before the council unanimously denied the request to remove eminent domain clause from the 28E regional airport agreement, Councilman Doug Yates said he felt Tener’s email was consistent with the information the council has received all along.
“I just didn’t see anything in this letter that wasn’t consistent with what we’ve always said,” Yates said.
Here is a copy of Tener’s email:
In other items of the agenda, the council received two comments in the public hearing portion of considering a resolution that levies a special assessment against private properties for weed cutting by the City of Oskaloosa. Residents who did not cut their weeds by May 15 were billed $250 by the City of Oskaloosa. However, an Oskaloosa resident purchased the property on 1115 S 11th Street on May 11. The weeds were cut on May 16 and after going out of town, then received a $250 fine. The council voted 4-3 against the resolution and then made a motion to approve that same resolution, but exempted the property on 1115 S 11th Street from having to pay the fine. The motion passed unanimously.
The council also unanimously passed the following items:
- A request from the Oskaloosa High School Council to use High Avenue East from 3rd Street to South Market Street, South Market Street to 1st Avenue East, and 1st Avenue East to South 3rd Street, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sep. 26 for the Homecoming Parade. The council also approved waiving the $25 fee for a road closure.
- Considering an ordinance to vacate and sell 60′ by 16.5′ of the North-South public alley adjacent to 835 South 2nd Street. This was the second reading of the ordinance.
- Scheduling a public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance of the City of Oskaloosa by re-zoning the property located at 214 Highway 432 from “mixed use urban corridor with a avenue commercial corridor overlay district” to “general commercial district.”
The council passed a motion approving the award of contract for the C Avenue East and North 3rd Street pavement rehabilitation project to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, and authorized the city manager to utilize an additional 10 percent for project contingency. The council passed the motion on a 6-1 vote with Councilman Jason Van Zetten voting “no.”
Lastly, the council unanimously passed two items on the agenda. The first item approved an amendment between the City of Oskaloosa and the Iowa Department of Transportation in regards to the Sanitary Sewer Construction agreement. The project has a new completion date (Nov. 29) and an additional cost of $15,925 that will be funded entirely by the Iowa DOT. The second item approved a motion to increase the aforementioned $15,925 to the total project cost.
The next City Council meeting will be on Sep. 2 at 6 p.m.