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"LVIA clears last property in runway protective zone"


 
Friday, July 30, 2004

LVIA clears last property in runway protective zone
Airport following FAA rules to clear areas of occupied buildings.
By Kirk Beldon Jackson
The Allentown (PA) Morning Call


A former women's clothing store housed in a 136-year-old building was
the last property that Lehigh Valley International Airport cleared to
comply with regulations for a runway protective zone, airport officials
said.

The three-story stone and brick building that once housed Partridge in a
Pear Tree was demolished last week, said George Doughty, executive
director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

The airport has been acquiring the properties in Hanover Township,
Lehigh County, and in Hanover Township, Northampton County, through
seizure or negotiated settlement since the early 1990s, Doughty said. A
total of 10 were acquired. An additional 11 were acquired as part of
LVIA's noise abatement program. Starting July 1, a company contracted by
the airport demolished the remaining buildings, ending with the former
Partridge in a Pear Tree property in the 2200 block of Schoenersville
Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

''We have no further plans for acquisition in that area,'' Doughty said.

In business for 25 years, Partridge in a Pear Tree was one of two
properties taken by eminent domain, Doughty said. Owner Mary Selko said
the airport acquired her property in 2001 and she moved out in January.

''That building has been there since 1868, it has a history, and the
fact that it's an ongoing business makes it even more of a community
interest story,'' said Selko, who works out of a store in Bethlehem and
plans to relocate at the beginning of next year to a 25-acre parcel she
purchased in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

But Doughty said the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, which
the authority had to consult because the building was more than 50 years
old, decided otherwise.

''Her building had been modified so many times and changed for different
purposes that it had no historic value, in their judgment,'' Doughty
said. ''If it had been historic, we would have been given some options
to deal with it.''

LVIA acquired the properties in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, to
conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations requiring it to
expand a runway protective zone - an area clear of occupied buildings -
at the end of its east-west runway, Doughty said. The 10 acquisitions,
which included a Wawa store, cover about 25 acres, he said.

In separate actions, Selko and the owners of the other seized property,
Tapeworks, have contested in Lehigh County Court the price the airport
offered them, Doughty said. The cases are pending, he said.

The airport acquired 11 properties covering about 30 acres in areas
heavily exposed to aircraft noise, Doughty said. He noted that the
airport receives federal money to carry out noise abatement by
purchasing buildings and soundproofing homes.

The airport acquired the noise-affected properties, 10 in Hanover
Township, Northampton County, and one in Hanover Township, Lehigh
County, through negotiated settlement, he said.


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