EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) -
During discussion of the Edgar County Airport grant application at this past Monday's county board study session, Mike Helstley is quoted in the Prairie Press with this wonderfully researched statement:
""This not only affects us," said Heltsley, noting many Downstate airports are located in areas without zoning."
With minimal research conducted this morning, looking at a list (found here) of airports in Illinois broken down by county, I researched each and every county listed as owning an airport. Then, I determined thru additional research if it was a "county airport" or an "airport authority". Upon finding an airport was a "county airport", I called the assessor's office of those counties (6 of them) and asked if the county had zoning and if the airports were zoned.
Here is a complete list of all counties in Illinois that own a county-owned airport and do not have zoning:
Yep. That's right. One.
Wow, that's a far cry from "many Downstate airports" as quoted in the PP article.
So here is the issue, as we have pointed out before, and it now turns out that Edgar County is the only county in Illinois with this issue:
The General County Airport and Landing Field Act, 620 ILCS 40, is the enabling statute for the Edgar County Airport.
No land may be used for the expansion of airport landing fields until it has been
zoned for airport purposes by the county or municipality having the zoning power
over such land, as the case may be.
The statute the airport is operating under requires that in order to expand a runway (or landing field), the county airport must be zoned for airport purposes. Lack of zoning means no expansion. Period.
Edgar County does not have zoning.
We have recently found that Edgar County used imminent domain, or theft of property, to force at least one land owner out of his rightfully owned real estate so the airport could expand in violation of law.
Had the county been forthcoming with the land owner and the Court, this could have never happened. It violates law. Not to mention, one of the people that were so happy to steal this property is now fighting to keep power lines off of his own property. Kind of ironic, isn't it?
- This airport grant was canceled over a year ago for false statements on the grant application
- This airport grant is currently suspended and under review by the IDOT, Division of Aeronautics general legal counsel for the lack of zoning issue, among other things
- past airport grants are under review for violations of state law requiring zoning in order to expand
- Edgar County use imminent domain for expansion projects that were in themselves violations of law
- Jeff Voigt is quoted as saying that the state's attorney and IDOT's head of Aeronautics thinks the zoning argument will be rejected and the project will move forwards (which is not what were told by IDOT)
- The county was apparently hedging its bets on this being a common issue among many airports, but has now been proven to be only an issue with Edgar County's Airport
- This project has missed the spring letting (bidding) and may not be included in the next letting
- the county could be liable for payback of all or part of funds obtained in violation of law (runway extension and cross-wind runway)
- reporters should try to research and verify statements, especially those made by Mike Heltsley
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