Land deal to increase airport's buffer area

Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), 2014-07-21

July 21 --A land swap between the Stafford Economic Development Authority and the Stafford Regional Airport Authority will create a greater buffer for the airport and give the EDA a piece of developable property along U.S. 1 .

Discussions over the exchange of ownership have spanned several years, but they are now wrapping up, not long after a proposed development near the airport spawned discussions over the protection of the airport's future growth.

The Planning Commission recently recommended denial of an application termed Oakenwold, which would include up to 650 units and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space on a 232-acre site southwest of the airport. One of the main sticking points for commissioners was the development's proximity to the airport.

The Board of Supervisors hasn't decided on the development.

With the swap, the airport will be receiving 104 acres on the northwestern edge of the airport property valued at $720,000 .

"The 104-acre [property] would become part of the airport and help with the runway extension and also protect our approach zones," airport director Edward Wallis said in an email.

The airport had long planned to acquire the property from the EDA, which purchased the parcel about 20 years ago in order to protect the airport from development.

"We bought it with the intention of it being a buffer for the airport authority, as I understand it from the authority," Stafford Economic Development Director Tim Baroody said.

In exchange, the EDA will get a 14.75-acre property to the southeast of the southern edge of the airport property.

The parcel is near the Penny Industrial Park and the Crane's Corner Industrial Park on the eastern side of U.S. 1 .

That property was appraised at $740,000 . Baroody said that the EDA is looking at it for commercial or industrial use.

According to Wallis, the 14.75-acre parcel has about 1,000 feet of U.S. 1 frontage and would be much easier to sell than the 104 acres.

The airport will cover the legal fees, appraisal fees and the closing costs, while the EDA is responsible for paying for permits to timber the 104-acre land.

"We're willing to give them the higher-priced property," said Hank Scharpenberg , chairman of the airport authority.

The two parties are now waiting for the arrangement to be wrapped up as the EDA seeks permits for the timbering. The airport authority will take possession of the land after the timbering is complete.

Any proceeds that the EDA receives from the timbering and the subsequent sale of the nearly 15-acre property will go toward establishing a permanent Germanna Community College campus in Stafford .

"The EDA is not profiting from the sale," said EDA Chairman Joel Griffin .

Griffin added that exchange will promote workforce development and increase the flight path safety of the airport.

Vanessa Remmers : 540/735-1975


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