Sunday, September 11, 2016

Defiance Memorial Airport (KDFI) authority files eminent domain action

Defiance County's airport board has filed an eminent domain court action seeking to appropriate property for the facility's runway safety zone.

Attorney Bruce McGary of Mason, representing the Defiance County Regional Airport Authority, filed the suit in Defiance County Common Pleas Court asking that property and the residence of Ronald and Edna Burdine at 07512 Evansport Road be taken to ensure the safety zone.

The suit proposes that the Burdines be compensated with $100,000.

The Burdines live in a mobile home on the property which also includes two garages and a pond.

According to the suit, the Burdines' property is "contiguous to, and within the runway protection zone for safety of the Defiance County Memorial Airport."

Among other safety reasons, the property is needed for tree removal to eliminate current and future obstructions, according to the suit.

The property is located just east of the airport, and the trees in question are on the west side of the land. The Burdines' residence is on the east side of the property, along Evansport Road.

The suit contains a provision that the Burdines — an elderly couple — "shall have ownership, possession and uses of the property themselves, during the term of each respondent's natural life, as long as one of the respondents shall reside on the property ... ."

The proviso also contains restrictions on what the Burdines could do with their property such as not adding or altering "the character of the improvements or structures" or "initiate any new construction, or change the topography of the land" without appropriate permission.

And the court action seeks requirements that trees be removed "that are currently obstructions" and "may become obstructions in the future."

The airport authority's hired consultant — Jeff Kramer of the firm Stantec in Columbus — noted that under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, "where practical, airport owners should own the property under the runway approach and departure areas to at least the limits of the runway protection zone."

According to Kramer, the proposed property take has nothing to do with future plans to extend the airport's runway.

He confirmed that there was an attempt to reach an easement agreement with the Burdines before the eminent domain proposal was filed, but this was declined.

The Burdines' attorney, Sean O'Donnell of Defiance, stated Thursday that "we're reviewing the pleadings and preparing a response."


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