Saturday, May 01, 2021

Mojave directors discuss condemning one hangar

Mojave Air and Space Port Board President Jim Balentine (right) opens its meeting Tuesday afternoon via Zoom.

MOJAVE, California — The Board of Directors for the Mojave Air and Space Port held a public hearing on a resolution of necessity to condemn one of its hangars during its Tuesday meeting.

The airport is working on its Taxiway C Rehabilitation Project however Hangar 927, conflicts with clearance standards by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Board’s resolution seeks to acquire the hangar, which was appraised at $91,000, as California Code of Civil Procedure §1245.230 provides that the power of eminent domain may be exercised to acquire property for public use. In this instance, the proposed public use is the airport’s Taxiway Rehabilitation project per FAA Guidance.

Kevin Brogan, a lawyer for Scaled Composites, LLC., requested the adoption of the resolution to be tabled until the Board’s next meeting. Scaled Composites, the current tenant of Hangar 927 has been in a lease agreement with the East Kern Airport District for a 20-year lease since April 1, 2009.

“During this period (Scaled Composites) and Mojave airport can determine whether there is true necessity to condemn Hangar 927,” he said.

Brogan requested that during the time between meetings, that they receive a copy of the FAA grant application and the award for review.

“Now to the extent the airport has an urgent need for possession of the hangar, Scaled Composites is willing to work with Mojave airport Board to accommodate those needs once there has been a review and consideration of the grant application, the award and the resolution at this continued hearing,” he said.

Jason Kelley, vice president of Scaled Composites, voiced the company’s objection to the adoption of the resolution and requested a full report on all factors surrounding this situation from the airport’s new Chief Executive Officer Todd Lindner.

“We respectfully request a postponement of this resolution and necessity proceedings until the next regular scheduled Board meeting based on information presented during the April 6 Board meeting,” he said.

Kelley said that if the resolution were to pass as is, the overall number of hangars would be reduced, along with a loss of revenue for the airport.

“The airport has no current plans or replacing hangars, or the project, or how it would actually be paid for,” he said. “If this were allowed to go forward, the airport would take a flight test asset from Scaled, with no suitable replacement. I realized value is not being discussed today, but the fact that Scaled would lose a flight test asset 13 years prematurely and no suitable replacement should actually be stated in this proceeding.”

Lindner confirmed through the FAA following the April 6 Board meeting that Taxiway C and Runway-26 are in a group classification with needed requirements that are driving the removal of the hangars.

“I do agree with Mr. Kelley in that there should have been provisions made in the planning process to address the removal and relocation of these hangars with replacement of other facilities,” he said. “However, that was not done.”

Lindner said the reason this problem is coming up now is because the taxiway has been operating noncompliance all this time.

“It’s just so now that the FAA is funding the rehabilitation of Taxiway C and therefore, is going to require that taxiway be brought into compliance,” he said.

Lindner also said the FAA would allow the airport to leave the structures in question until they have made the necessary modifications to the Airport Layout Plan.

“The FAA did say that they if we wanted to move this to the end of the project, as far as the removal, that was fine,” he said. “They would not allow us to close the grant with that unaddressed.”

The Board agreed to table the adoption of the resolution until its first Board meeting in May.

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