Sunday, August 13, 2017

Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (KBRO) director: Letters needed full context

Bryant Walker, director of the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, said letters recently sent out to residential property owners near the airport about appraising their properties should have provided more context.

The letter was sent by Garza & Associates LLC to more than 60 property owners, mostly in the Sunny Skies colonia south of the airport, to inform homeowners of the opportunity to meet with an appraiser when their homes are being inspected for appraisal related to future purchases related to the “Brownsville Airport Expansion Project.”

“The appraisal is to determine the current market value of your property, all or in part, to be purchased by the City of Brownsville,” the letter reads in part, additionally, that Garza & Associates was contracted for appraisal services by a firm called Texas Land Professionals, which would be performing the property acquisitions and making offers to owners, the purchase prices to be paid by the city.

Walker said the letters gave homeowners a big scare and should have emphasized the “future” aspect more. The “airport expansion” refers to a long-planned project to extend the primary runway to the southeast, which would require homes in the colonia to eventually be acquired and demolished because of their proximity to the longer runway’s threshold.

“The way it was worded, it sounded like something was happening next week and you have to move out by the end of the month,” he said. “None of this is happening right away.”

Walker said a new terminal has to be built first, a two-year project, then the secondary runway, which runs north and south, has to be extended to maintain the airport’s capacity once the primary runway is closed for construction. Work on the primary runway probably won’t start for another four or five years, he said.

Walker said rumors that city officials own property in the neighborhood and are pushing the acquisitions to line their own pockets are untrue and that county property records bear this out.

The reason for the runway extension isn’t to be able to accommodate bigger planes, since the airport already can handle planes up to the size of a 747, but rather to enhance the safety of the flying public by increasing the margin of error for landing passenger jets, he said.

Walker said the city has been buying farmland and a few residential properties in the area for years in anticipation of the runway project, but nothing in the colonia. For those purchases, the city contracted with the same company, Texas Land Professionals, which sent property owners the required notices “a long time ago,” he said.

Newly under contract again with the city, the company basically picked up where it had left off, which led to the most recent letters to property owners, Walker said.

“They went back into acquisition phase,” he said. “The next step was to renew all appraisals.”

Airport officials will host a meeting for affected homeowners this week, during which they’ll give a presentation on airport projects, discuss the rationale behind the runway extension, field questions and hand out information, Walker said.

“Hopefully they get an idea of why all this is happening,” he said.

Original article ➤

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