Supervisors to consider land offer for airport

A landowner has given Warren County a chance to help expand the airport at little cost.

The Board of Supervisors plans to consider an offer to buy 14.6 acres of land adjacent to the Front Royal-Warren County Airport for $166,000 from Warrenton-based Picture Perfect Properties LLC. The land lies to the south of the airport off Menefee Lane and is zoned for agricultural use. Patricia Simpson is identified as the sole member of Picture Perfect Properties.

Federal and state agencies are expected to reimburse the county for most of the cost, County Attorney Blair Mitchell said Friday. The board takes up the offer Tuesday specifically to consider an option to purchase the property.

If approved, the county would pay $10,000 for the option. The funding for the option and purchase price would come from the county’s capital outlay budget. The county could use the land for existing and expanded operations and as an additional buffer between adjoining properties and homes. The airport needs more space.

“We’ve got a waiting list for hangars, so there may be a possibility of putting a hangar facility over on this property and moving some of this other stuff around,” Mitchell said, pointing to the site illustrated on a sketch. “This will be just additional security and buffering for the neighbors that are there on the south side because the portion of the property we’re looking at is mostly wooded right now.”

The owners could subdivide the 15 acres and set it up for residential development, Mitchell said. But housing might not be the best use for the property.

“Rather than have three or four houses go up there and then constantly complain about the airport, we thought it would be a good idea, the board thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and get it at the relatively cheap price and, again, use it for potential future expansion,” Mitchell said.

The total property consists of two parcels. The county assessed the larger parcel at $131,500 and the other at $34,500. Picture Perfect is offering both parcels for the assessed value at $166,000.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Virginia Department of Aviation have indicated the agencies would reimburse the county for 98 percent of the purchase price, Mitchell said. The county would receive the reimbursement after it amends the Airport Layout Plan to reflect the additional 15 acres. Mitchell said the plan is due for an update next year.

The seller has proposed giving the county an option on the property and the $10,000 fee, while non-refundable, would apply to the purchase price should the board decide to buy the land. The option would allow the county to survey the land, obtain an environmental report and title examination and perform other actions until Dec. 31.

The airport and its commission have been busy in recent years. The county has had to buy easements and land around part of the airport to clear obstructions for the runway. The FAA has required that the county airport remove trees near the runway. The county also needs to install three light towers.

The board on Tuesday is expected to approve a grant agreement with the federal and state aviation agencies for the obstruction removal project. The work is necessary to meet federal and state safety requirements. The county obtained the land necessary for the project last fall. The next phase includes the design of the removal that would include grading, tower construction and lighting, access roads and fencing as well as the development and bidding of the contract documents. The approved project budget for the phase is $137,000. Of that amount, the county would cover $2,740. The remainder would come from federal and state aviation agencies.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com