Residents Share Their Concerns Over Regional Airport

The Stephenson Farm was established in 1881, and could be impacted if the regional airport was built.

The Stephenson Farm was established in 1881, and could be impacted if the regional airport was built.

Supervisors Say They’ve Proposed A Mitigation Plan For 220th Street

Oskaloosa, Iowa – People in opposition to the new regional airport voiced their opinion to the Oskaloosa City Council on Monday evening during the public comments.

Nick Ryan, 1815 260th Street Oskaloosa, Iowa, was the first to address the Council on the subject.

Ryan referenced the comments he made during the previous city council meeting where he also shared his concerns in regards to the 28E agreement and had sent an email to the council members asking for a response to three questions.

Ryan thanked City Council member Doug Yates for his response but again asked the other council members for theirs, and that it should be considered they are making those statements on the record.

Ryan went on to say that the regional airport project has “been facilitated by unsubstantiated claims of economic development.” Asking for the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa to prove those claims.

Ryan said he was going to be initiating an open records request of the city for documents that support the economic development conversation.

Ryan also said he intends to forward concerns that council members that are employed by Musco or its sister companies should abstain themselves from any vote in regards to the airport.

He informed the Council that he would be sending that information to Iowa Ethics, Attorney General of Iowa, and the Mahaska County Attorney’s Office, among others.

“We the people ask this Council to do the right thing and stop this abuse of government power once and for all,” Ryan said in the close of his prepared statement.

Council member Steve Burnett asked Ryan “What skin do you have in the game? In other words, do you have property that’s going to be affected by the, do you own property that’s affected by the airport?”

Ryan’s address puts him living on a gravel road west of Beacon, but his mailing address is listed as Oskaloosa.

“No, I’m just a concerned citizen of Mahaska County that’s worried that the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa are affecting, are engaging in a situation that affect all of our property rights,” Ryan said in response.

“And you just mentioned Musco a little bit ago, and at the last meeting you villified Mr. Crookham, and I didn’t hear any comments related to Pella Corp. or any of the folks that are also interested in this airport. Curious if it’s a personal vendetta or why just partial vindictive speaking and not, why isn’t it open to everybody I guess that’s involved,” Burnett asked of Ryan.

In those comments from the previous meeting, Ryan said he would like to see the city council work with the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors to terminate the 28E agreement for the regional airport. “It’s quite obvious to any reasonable person that only a select few will truly benefit from this proposed airport. The general public seems to have no need or desire for it,” referencing a public vote in 2005.

Ryan, in those comments, said that the Oskaloosa City Council went against the will of the people, and is using taxpayer funds “to forcibly separate farmers from their rightfully owned property via eminent domain and provide for the private air travel needs of big business.”

Ryan went on to say that, “This is the type of thing that would/gives the appearance that the governing power in the city no longer rests with we the people, or even embodied in this building, but it’s sometimes in the corner office across the street.”

Further asking Ryan about his (Burnett’s) statement to him (Ryan) about his previous meetings comments, Burnett asked if he was being unfair, and offered to go back and look at the last meeting video recording asking if Ryan had mentioned Pella Corp.

Ryan agreed that he only mentioned Musco, referencing a court case that accused Oskaloosa City Council members, Mahaska County Supervisors having a walking quorum with individuals from Musco in regards to a regional airport.

In the Iowa Court of Appeals, it was found that no such event happened. Ryan is referencing Musco’s involvement in the early stages of negotiations.

Ryan said that he hasn’t seen any other court documents that indicate an interest by another private corporation in regards to the regional airport.

Pella Corp did send out a press release stating their support of the regional airport in June of 2018, stating they’ve supported the new airport since 1998.

Ryan responding to Burnett said he “in no way was trying to villify, just trying to point out that there clearly is an interest by a private corporation and who the individuals were that perceived to communicate with those officials.”

Steve Burnett said to Ryan, that he has never once spoken to Mr. Crookham about the airport. “Ever.” He then thanked Ryan for answering his questions.

Ryan took his step into politics during the most recent race for Iowa House District 79, as a Libertarian. Republican Dustin Hite ultimately defeated him for the seat.

Brandon Molyneux, who lives at 514 South C in Oskaloosa, and also Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Mahaska County, urged the city council to end the 28E agreement for the regional airport.

Molyneux agreed with Ryan’s previous comments stating, “the citizens have voted on this. The Board of Supervisors has terminated it, and also, like he said, a representative of government. Will you be a representative of government of the people.”

Alicia Groenendyk, of rural Mahaska County and operator of the Facebook Page ‘Stop The Airport From Being Built In Mahaska County’ addressed the Council next.

“Eminent domain is for public use things like roads and schools. But all too often cities, like Pella and Oskaloosa, team up with their corporate friends to condemn perfectly fine properties, businesses, and livelihoods for development like this airport,” Groenendyk said in opening.

“It is an unconstitutional abuse of eminent domain and must be stopped. How as members of this city council be ok what’s happening just outside your city limits,” Groenendyk added. “How is it that you’ve let the city of Pella tell you what is best for you. Oskaloosa has a perfectly good airport, and the last time I checked it was actually making money.”

“It doesn’t make sense that you would close down one airport making money to build one that more than likely will never break even,” said Groenendyk. “How can you sit here and look at these landowners in the eyes and say this will be a benefit to all? How can you say it will be economic development? If I was on the city council, I’d worry about keeping Oskaloosa going. There are streets that need repair, buildings in need of repair, and a mall with a lot of empty stores and trouble keeping things in them.”

“These landowners will not sell what they have worked so hard to keep in their families. Some for over 100 years,” Groenendyk added. “Some will lose their inheritance to this project. We lose more and more farmland every year, making it harder to feed the world.”

Groenendyk quoted case law that said property could be taken based on a mere promise that it would provide increased tax revenue and provide jobs. “A mere promise. Isn’t that what you guys are saying about this project? This airport will bring in more money and jobs, but how can you make that promise? How do you know?”

“It’s time we stand up for what is ours,” said Groenendyk. “I’m here in support of these landowners and 100 percent against eminent domain for this project.”

In a recent South Central Regional Airport meeting, it was disclosed that the SCRAA Board was in negotiations with a landowner for the purchase of their land.

Earlier in the day, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors turned down a proposal made in a joint work session, with members of the SCRAA, Supervisors, and the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa, to form a committee to discuss options on farm to market road mitigation for 220th Street, which is scheduled to be severed for the new airport.

“I’m satisfied with what we’ve got,” Mahaska County Supervisor Steve Wanders said of the current arrangement. “We gave them a plan. They need to follow coming from our engineering department. I don’t see the purpose of another board.”

“I tend to agree,” said Mahaska County Supervisor Steve Parker in response to Wander’s comment.

No official vote took place on the decision to forgo the committee.

The parties involved in the 28E agreement have been ordered to work towards resolving differences, especially in regards to 220th Street.

In a district court ruling in February of 2019, “The court notes that the road at issue here has not been closed or relocated. It appears to be Mahaska County’s argument that the plan proposed by Plaintiffs effectively forces Mahaska County to close 220th Street. Plaintiffs argue that a service road will be created to accommodate agricultural vehicles and farm equipment. The question of whether the proposed plan actually forces Mahaska County to close or abandon 220th Street is a factual question reserved for the fact finder at trial. “Even if the facts are undisputed, summary judgment is not proper if reasonable minds could draw different inferences from them and thereby reach different conclusions.” Clinkscales v. Nelson Securities, Inc, 697 N.W.2d 836, 841 (Iowa 2005). Whether Plaintiffs are requiring road closure based upon the proposed plans is an issue that reasonable minds could draw different inferences from and reach different conclusions. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment on the Defendant’s Counterclaim must be denied.

The court then turns to Plaintiffs’ request for a more detailed order regarding specific performance. As this issue is a matter of law and not a fact question, summary judgment is appropriate. When this court ruled on Plaintiffs’ first Motion for Summary Judgment, it determined that Plaintiffs were entitled to specific performance as a remedy for Defendant’s breach of contract, but declined to make specific findings. Plaintiffs now request the court order specific performance requiring Mahaska County comply with the Termination and Amendment Procedures of the 28E agreement, send its representative and participate in the SCRAA board meetings, and use best efforts to resolve issues regarding to road relocations.

Specifically, Plaintiffs’ request the court order Mahaska County to put road relocation complaints in writing and require Plaintiffs have at least 60 days in which to respond. Mahaska County argues Plaintiffs are not entitled to specific performance because its nonperformance is excused due to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract. This argument is unpersuasive as this court already found Mahaska County to be in breach and specific performance a permissible remedy. Mahaska County’s argument is an indirect attack upon this court’s earlier ruling and is insufficient to preclude summary judgment. However, Mahaska County’s alternative argument that Plaintiffs are not entitled to specific performance concerning the road relocations has merit. To be entitled to a contractual remedy, a party must prove that a contract exists and a breach has occurred. Molo Oil Co. v. River City Ford Truck Sales, Inc., 578 N.W.2d 222, 224 (Iowa 1998). The court’s ruling on the Plaintiffs’ first Motion for Summary Judgment found that Mahaska County has breached the 28E agreement by its repudiation resolution and removing its SCRAA representative. Specific performance is to “best effectuate the purposes for which a contract is made.” Lange, 520 N.W.2d at 117-118 (Iowa 1994). Therefore, Plaintiffs are entitled to specific performance regarding the provisions Mahaska County has been found to be in breach only.”

Posted by on May 8 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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