airport property map.jpg

TRAVERSE CITY — An airport request to buy a private home for $270,000 was cleared for takeoff this week.

Grand Traverse County commissioners unanimously authorized a Northwestern Regional Airport Commission purchase of 718 Duell Road for $270,000 in a homeowner-volunteered sale.

Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein addressed the board, explaining the Federal Aviation Administration “required” a wider runway protection zone following an August 2014 installation of a GPS Approach to North/South Runway 18/36.

“This is something the FAA requires us to do, make a good faith offer,” Board Chair Rob Hentschel said.

Klein confirmed that, saying because the homeowners were selling voluntarily, once the property is acquired the FAA would reimburse 95 percent of the cost.

Once the purchase of the 1,268-square-foot home owned by Robert and Danielle Humphrey is finalized, ticket taxes will finance the remaining $13,500, Klein said.

The $270,000 price tag includes the purchase price of $200,061, plus $30,000 in title work, engineering and environmental study costs and $40,000 in demolition and removal costs.

Klein said Thursday the purchase price came out of negotiations with the homeowner. The airport hired an appraiser, made an offer and met in the middle after the owners countered.

As Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County are part owners of the Cherry Capital Airport, the Airport Commission is required to seek approval from each county’s board in order to take on debt, or acquire land through eminent domain or voluntary purchase.

A request for approval of the purchase is on the agenda for the Nov. 12 Leelanau County Board executive session.

Klein updated Leelanau County commissioners about airport finances and usage numbers at their Oct. 8 meeting but didn’t discuss buying 718 Duell Road.

The two county boards may lose their vote on airport land purchases if the airport commission becomes an authority, as some on the airport commission are suggesting.

As previously reported by the Record-Eagle, a subcommittee that examined airport governance since March thinks having Cherry Capital become an airport authority is the way to go.

The Northwestern Regional Airport Commission soon could suggest this to Grand Traverse and Leelanau County commissioners.

Airport authorities have autonomy over land purchases, depending on how their articles of incorporation are written.

Airport Commission members will meet Nov. 19, where Klein previously said they’ll discuss three options for governance: become an airport authority, reject the subcommittee’s recommendation, or ask the subcommittee to gather more information.

GPS approaches allow planes to land in worse weather, requiring wider protection zones, Klein said Thursday.

The wider runway protection zone impacts nine properties, including the Humphrey home at 718 Duel Road, and 701 W. South Airport Road, which the commission bought in March 2015 from Charter Communications.

In an Oct. 15 letter to Grand Traverse County Administrator Nate Alger, and Leelanau County Administrator Chet Janik, Klein said, “It continues to be the goal of NRAC to purchase these properties within the RPZ as they become available.”

The properties at issue are: 495 W. South Airport Road, 501 W. South Airport Road; 745 W. South Airport Road; 723 Duell Road; 724 Duell Road; 736 Duell Road; 486 W. Welch Court and 487 W. Welch Court.

“These nine properties, when they are acquired they come off the tax roles?” asked Commissioner Gordie Lapointe.

“Correct,” Klein said.

“Is there any means where, not that the county is made whole but the county is in some way compensated?” Lapointe asked.

“Typically no,” Klein said.

The Leelanau County Commission also next meets Nov. 19, and the agenda will be set after Nov. 13.

Record-Eagle reporter Jordan Travis contributed to this article.