Lippy, Dell approve airport deal Officials defend $900,000 purchase

December 30, 1992|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Two Carroll commissioners voted yesterday to spend

$900,000 to purchase 104 acres of farmland, a portion of which is necessary to extend the runway of Carroll County Regional Airport.

Commissioners Elmer C. Lippy and Donald I. Dell said they have been criticized for buying the property for $165,000 more than the appraised price.

But the purchase will eventually prove to be a worthwhile and intelligent acquisition, they said.

"All in all, we have defended this purchase and we should, because it is a very good deal," said Mr. Lippy. "This property has a lot of potential that the county can tap into outside of the airport expansion project."

Commissioner Julia Gouge, who opposed the purchase on grounds that it would set a bad precedent for future county land acquisitions, did not attend yesterday's meeting. She is on vacation, officials said.

Over Mrs. Gouge's objections, Mr. Dell and Mr. Lippy signed an option Dec. 7 that gave the property owner, Pauline Byers Shaffer, $850,000 plus $50,000 in moving expenses for the Pleasant Valley Road farmland that her family had worked on for five generations.

The land had been appraised at $685,000. Ms. Shaffer had rejected two previous offers from the county -- $400,000 for 41 acres and $735,000 for the whole tract.

"It has been said that we may be setting a precedent by buying this land far above the appraised price," Mr. Dell said. "But I believe that precedent was set long before this purchase."

That remark apparently alluded to a 1989 land deal in which previous commissioners paid $10,000 an acre for land appraised at $7,532 an acre. That land was used to build Winfield Elementary School.

Mr. Lippy said yesterday that paying more than the appraised price for more land than expansion requires may seem strange to some.

But, he said, "there are a lot more pluses than minuses when they are stacked side by side. This construction project will bring in a lot of jobs."

Mr. Dell said he believes numerous potential uses for the excess land will justify its purchase.

"With the purchase of this property and the adjoining farmland, we could relocate Pleasant Valley Road down through the valley and eliminated that troublesome intersection at Route 97," Mr. Dell said. "And that's just one of the uses."

The commissioners said they also have been under fire for buying all 104 acres of Ms. Shaffer's land, instead of purchasing only the acreage needed for the 30-acre runway extension and an 11-acre easement.

But Mr. Dell said a Federal Aviation Administration regulation requires the county to buy the entire property because more than half of the farming business conducted there would be disrupted.

He also said that the county came out ahead financially by buying the entire tract.

"In the offer to purchase the 30 acres and the 11-acre easement, we would have paid $217,600," Mr. Dell said. "In this final offer, we have invested $199,250 to purchase 104 acres in fee.

"We could eventually sell about 10 acres of that land as a farmette, begin reimbursing the FAA for the money they put in, and still have about 50 acres for county purposes."

The FAA will pay 90 percent of the appraised price of the farmland, or $616,500. The state will pay 5 percent of the appraised price, or $34,250, and Carroll will pay $199,250 to make up the difference.

The FAA will pay relocation costs.

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