Landowners Question SCRAA Board About Access

South Central Regional Airport Board - June 28, 2016

South Central Regional Airport Board – June 28, 2016

The South Central Regional Airport Agency [SCRAA] held its quarterly meeting on June 28th.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Calls were made from the public to the board to find out information about what landowners allowed access to the State Historical Office for a recent archaeological study that is a part of the FAA process in developing a new airport.

Jack Rempe once again addressed the board in regards to his public comments to the board during their March 29, 2016, meeting. During that meeting, Rempe delivered a letter that states he was appearing on behalf of himself and “landowners adversely affected by the proposed airport.”

In the letter, it states, “We have organized ourselves into a group called Site A Landowners, and we are represented by Gary Dickey of Dickey & Campbell Law Firm. We ask that Mr. Dickey be included in all future notices involving the proposal. I ask that the minutes reflect that we vigorously oppose the airport, and intend to use every legal means at our disposal to prevent its construction.”

The letter went on to say, “We urge you to withdraw the proposed airport altogether in light of the clear public opinion in opposition to it. Alternatively, we ask you to relocate the airport project from its proposed location.”

At the June 28th meeting, Rempe stated to the board, “There’s been no comment from the board, so I’m curious to know what the comments are now, and if that’s part of your impact study or not.”

Board Chair Jim Hansen expressed to Rempe that his comments and letter were included in the board minutes, and that if the board had a response, it would have made a statement.

“Well, I don’t think that’s much follow-up on that,” said Rempe.

Hansen said that the call to the public is to get commentary and not necessarily answer questions, and that specific questions could be directed to the board staff. “I didn’t see any particular question; all I saw was a threat of litigation, and I typically don’t respond to those,” Hansen added.

Larry Van Maanen questioned the board about how an environmental assessment was done when, “to my knowledge, none of the landowners have given permission to be on their land.”

Board Chair Hansen stated that Van Maanen’s information was incorrect, and that “There has been permission given by some landowners to get on the land.”

Jerry Searle is the consultant working for the board. During his update to the board on Federal Aviation Planning Studies, he also addressed the landowner access question initiated by Van Maanen.

Searle addressed the process of completing the environmental assessment, which includes work with the SHPO [State Historic Preservation Office] and completing the requests by the various agencies in regard to the study.

Searle said that the archaeological phase 1 has been completed “for those properties for which we had permission to enter. Those properties we did not have permission to enter, the archaeological field work [inaudible]…”

Van Maanen then stated to Searle during the presentation, “I’d like to know the properties you had permission to enter, and I’d like to see the written permission that you had to enter those properties.”

Searle said he would be willing to provide a list of the names they got permission from, and that he would be willing to send it to Van Maanen.

“No, No. That’s what this meeting is for,” said Van Maanen. “You need to provide that information tonight.”

Chairman Hansen addressed Van Maanen, stating, “Sir, he’s answered your question. He’ll provide that information. If you wanted to know, you could have asked at any time in the last six months.”

Searle said that he would email the information the next day.

Searle then continued with his report by saying that archaeological work was completed on properties they were granted access to, and that information was submitted to the FAA on January 15.

The FAA responded back to SHPO, and in return SHPO then responded back to the board, requesting additional information. That additional information request was focused primarily on existing airport sites for Oskaloosa and Pella.

A public hearing about the draft environment assessment report is tentatively planned for September 29th, at the George Daily Auditorium for that meeting. That date will not be solid until all commentary is back from the appropriate agencies.

The document is slated to be available in public places, like libraries and the board website, for public review before the public meeting.

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