SUTTONS BAY — The purchase of a property in the path of a runway protection zone at the Cherry Capital Airport was unanimously recommended for approval by the Leelanau County Commission last week.
The measure now moves forward to the regular commission meeting on Tuesday, where it is expected to be approved.
The purchase makes room for a wider protection zone on north/south runway 18/36, which had a GPS satellite system approach installed by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014. The wider runway zone is required by the FAA.
Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties co-own the airport and each county’s board must approve the purchase. The Grand Traverse County Commission approved it earlier this month.
The total cost to acquire the property is $270,000. The sellers, Robert and Danielle Humphrey, will receive about $200,000 for their Duell Road home, a price that was negotiated after an appraisal of the property. Another $30,000 will be spent on title, engineering and environmental study costs; $40,000 will be spent to raze the home.
Airport Director Kevin Klein said the Humphreys approached the airport about wanting to sell. Because the sale is voluntary, the FAA will reimburse 90 percent of the costs to Cherry Capital through its Airport Improvement Program that is derived from ticket taxes, he said.
Another 5 percent will come from the state and 5 percent from local airport revenue from hangar rentals and landing, fuel and parking fees, Klein said.
The GPS systems are in use at U.S. airports on a limited basis, he said, as not all aircraft operators have the equipment on board. Many airports are also not yet in compliance and there is no set date for when that needs to happen, he said.
“That has allowed us to pursue it in incremental voluntary acquisitions,” Klein said.
The main issue, Klein said, is that the FAA does not have the money to pay for all the properties that need to be purchased to create the requisite runway protection zones.
“This is happening at all airports across the country,” he said.
In all, nine properties are located within the targeted zone, including the Humphrey home and a property on South Airport Road that was purchased in 2015 from Charter Communications for $214,000, with another $80,000 for engineering, title and closing costs.
Of the remaining seven properties, two have homes on them and the rest are commercial or light industrial businesses, Klein said. Most have expressed interest in selling, though no steps have been taken, he said.
The properties are on South Airport Road, Duell Road and Welch Court.