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Easement for Airport Authority Provisionally Approved

At a recent Mingo County Airport Authority meeting, board members were informed by Chapman Technical Group’s Brian Huffman that he would need to approach the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority to request an easement agreement for a phone line connector leading to the new airport’s fuel farm system.

Huffman, who is the current project engineer for the Appalachian Regional Airport, said the phone line is needed for the operation of a credit/debit card system by which fuel can be purchased and immediately credited for payment by users of the ARA at Varney.

He said available pairs of inner lines within the main line can also be utilized for an FAA-required emergency phone hookup for that system, as well as allow for a third hookup at a future airport terminal.

Officials with nearby Lexington Coal Company agreed to allow the MCAA to tap into an existing line that services the mining operation. This multiple usage line, which extends from the bottom of the mountain to past the airport, can also be used for add-on hookups other than those needed for the ARA, Huffman said.

The line needed for the airport would extend from the point of the tap adjacent to the airport to the access point for the credit/debit card terminal, approximately 100 feet in distance, with the possibility of additional lines for the other airport usages also being connected from the point of the tap.

Huffman said although an agreement with the coal company to use the existing phone line system had been reached, because some of the system is also on a section of property owned by the MCRA the agency would also be required to grant an easement before work could begin.

While making his request for the easement agreement during the MCRA’s regular meeting last Thursday, however, Huffman learned that a great deal of the phone line system to which he referred may already be on MCRA and not coal company property.

MCRA board member James Simpkins said the property running from the company’s guard shack located approximately halfway down the mountain back to the airport is no longer under permit by Lexington Coal Company and therefore has reverted back to the Redevelopment Authority.

“When the coal company released its permit, that’s the only hold they had on that particular piece of property,” Simpkins explained.

MCRA Executive Director Leasha Johnson said the MCRA will eventually take ownership of the company’s office building as well because it is currently only leasing the building.

Simpkins pointed out that the only property that the MCRA doesn’t own is a strip of land leading down the mountain from the guard shack, which he said is owned by a land company and which hadn’t been conveyed to the MCRA at the time all the other property was transferred to it.

“So you’re under the understanding that you own the poles and cable system from the office on your property?” Huffman asked.

Johnson said she would need to investigate the question of current land proprietorship a little further but that she was reasonably confident the MCRA does have control of the land below the office building to the guard shack and the poles and phone line on it due to the coal mining company’s permit release agreement.

Simpkins said appurtenances already on property must be addressed before a company can get a release from its permit.

“It is my understanding you can’t get a release from a permit with anything left there,” he said. “It has to be addressed one way or the other ... if you have a pole in the ground you either have to take it with you or leave it for the use of the landowner.”

Huffman said he hadn’t been aware of this stipulation but that he regarded it as a positive development for the MCAA.

“That would be pretty good news for the (airport) authority because we wouldn’t have to work with the coal company on this particular part of the property,” Huffman said.

Board member Andy Dillon pointed out that the coal company, and subsequently the land company, would still retain control of the poles and phone line extending from the bottom of the mountain to the guard shack and that some sort of arrangement would have to be made to ensure the line and poles remain intact when the company completes its mining operation and leaves the property.

As part of the in-question right-of-way agreement proposal with the MCAA, MCRA board members asked that the contract be amended to read that the MCRA would also have the right to use some of the existing pairs of the phone line should the Authority have additional future development projects for sections of its property in the vicinity of the airport and require use of them.

While Johnson and board members were confident that the phone line and poles did revert back to the MCRA when Lexington Coal Company received its permit release on the questioned property, irrespective of current proprietorship Johnson said the easement agreement with the MCAA should contain this proviso.

Huffman said he would make the changes to the agreement and present the revised version back to the Redevelopment Authority as well as to the MCAA at its next meeting, which was scheduled for this week.

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