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Article updated: 11/5/2012 4:20 PM

Lake in the Hills Airport lawsuit moves forward

The safety improvements planned for the Lake in the Hills Airport include rebuilding and widening the current runway in 2022.

The safety improvements planned for the Lake in the Hills Airport include rebuilding and widening the current runway in 2022.

 

Courtesy of Lake in the Hills Airport

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An eminent domain lawsuit filed in September by Lake in the Hills against a construction company as part of the village's airport safety improvement plan is slowly making its way through the court system, Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said.

The roughly one-acre parcel at 8603 Pyott Road, which now belongs to Snelten Inc., would serve as the main access to the new airport apron area, part of a $23 million long-term plan to improve safety at the airport.

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The village and the Sneltens are "several hundred thousand dollars off" in terms of the value of the property, Sagona said, declining to give exact figures. Both parties had appraisals done earlier this year. "It's unfortunate we couldn't arrive at a settlement," he said.

Neither the Sneltens nor their attorney, Curt Rehberg, returned calls for comment. The next court date is Jan. 22 in Woodstock.

In 2007, Lake in the Hills filed another such eminent domain lawsuit related to the airport plan to acquire three-fourths of an acre from Athans Co. The village also acquired some land from Material Service Corp.

A study released by Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics shows that the total economic output from the airport is $28.7 million, Airport Manager Manny Gomez said. After expenses, the airport nets about $30,000 in revenues yearly that help fund the safety improvements, mostly covered by federal and state grant money, he said.

Officials are working to come up with creative ideas to increase airport revenues, as well as the airport's overall exposure within the community, he said. "We want to help the community understand its importance and how it contributes to the local economy," he said.

New initiatives include renting hangar space as storage for boats, RVs, snowmobiles, cars and the like; providing additional plastic storage units for hangar tenants; installing a new vending machine and picnic table on a grassy area near the airport office so families can have lunch while watching airplanes; and creating a Facebook page for the airport, he said.

The airport this year hosted two events -- an aviation expo and a pancake breakfast -- that might be repeated next year, Gomez said. "We're looking at what other things can we do," he said.

Most of the taxiway construction was finished this year, Gomez said. Next year, likely in October, the perimeter fencing will be extended east toward Pyott Road, while rebuilding and widening the current runway is projected for 2022, he said.

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