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"County commissioner suggests eminent domain for central Idaho airport expansion"
Saturday, October 15, 2011
County commissioner suggests eminent domain for central Idaho airport
The Associated Press
HAILEY, Idaho - A Blaine County commissioner says he's willing to use
eminent domain to acquire land needed for a possible expansion of a central
Idaho airport in Hailey that serves the resort area of Ketchum and Sun
In the memo to airport Manager Rick Baird, Commissioner Larry Schoen wrote
of "my willingness and preparedness to proceed to the assertion of eminent
domain and acquisition by condemnation of any lands that could be determined
to be necessary for expansion of Friedman Memorial Airport."
But Hailey City Councilman Fritz Haemmerle told the Idaho Mountain Express
(http://bit.ly/rkKEZd ) that it's a rogue memo without authorization from
the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, a group of local officials who
would decide whether to attempt to use eminent domain.
"Not a single one of our FMAA representatives has brought this to the City
Council," Haemmerle said. "If you're on a board, you're a member of a board,
and you don't go directing people like this without having board authority."
The memo, obtained by the newspaper and published Friday, also cites Marc
Reinemann. Schoen said Reinemann represents Flying Hat Ranch owner Spencer
Eccles, whose land would be needed to expand the airport.
Schoen told the newspaper he was prompted to draft the memo after Reinemann
called him to ask that eminent domain be used to acquire part of the ranch
because it could provide a tax advantage for Eccles.
When reached by the newspaper, Reinemann declined to comment.
The Federal Aviation Administration says that Friedman Memorial Airport
should be moved because of expanding residential areas and high hills that
make the airfield too dangerous. Local leaders are concerned about the
potential loss of commercial service and the economic damage to the county
that could result if something isn't done.
Local officials are considering expanding the airport to meet federal
standards after expenses that soared to more than $300 million made a plan
to move the airport south less desirable. In August, the FAA said it had
stopped work on an environmental impact study on a new airport because of
increased costs of the new airport and potential impacts on wildlife.
The agency said it's now waiting for airport and city officials to decide
whether to continue with plans to move the airport south before the agency
will continue spending money to complete the study. Baird said no decisions
have been made about expanding the airport.
Schoen said the memo doesn't mean the eminent domain process has been
started, and he suggested any such assertions were based on an attempt to
get an advantage in future elections.
"It's very unsettling to me that anybody would be jumping to conclusions and
becoming emotional or distraught without trying to understand it further,"
he said. "I fear politics are creeping into the equation."
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