PARIS, IL. (ECWd – News they don’t want you to know) -
After almost 4 years of review, the Edgar County Airport Apron Expansion / Fuel Farm project has been given somewhat of a "green light" by the FAA and IDOT.
This project was first stopped due to proven fraud in the grant application submitted by the former airport manager, former airport and county board members, and the Engineering firm who appeared to throw the county under the bus in that application by specifically stating the information presented was received from the airport manager, thereby absolving themselves of any responsibility for false reports on the airport's part. It was later stopped because Edgar County did not have the required land zoning.
We covered zoning for airports in an article from 2016 (here) explaining the difference between a county airport and municipal or airport authorities and the statutes they must comply with. Despite local newspaper reports that Edgar County's Airport was not unique, we proved that idea wrong in a March 11, 2016 article (here).
Local Edgar County resident Robert Bogue, along with others submitted information to the FAA for their consideration, which resulted in several work stoppages over the course of four years. For the record, there is a new Airport Manager, a new Airport Advisory Board, and new County Board members since this issue began.
Timeline of the events of this airport grant:
- Oct 28, 2013 - We had to file suit against Edgar County to force them to acknowledge which state statute they were operating the airport under. The county ended up having to provide a copy of it to us
- Jan 8, 2014 - First statements made to Edgar County Board referencing grant fraud accusations - they ignored the information presented
- Sep 19, 2014 - FAA issues order suspending all work at the Edgar County Airport so it can review the application submitted for the grant [after receiving evidence the application was fraudulent]
- Dec 19, 2015 - We wrote about the state law requirement for land zoning prior to any county airport expansion
- Jan 25, 2016 - FAA again order the suspension of all federally funded projects at the Edgar County Airport - this time because there was no land zoning in place
- Apr 5, 2016 - IDOT sent another letter to Edgar County prohibiting the use of any state or federal funds until such a time as the county establishes zoning as required by law
- Apr 25, 2016 - Edgar County Board considered giving the airport to the City of Paris
- Jul 3, 2017 - IDOT tells the county "air hazard zoning" is good enough and that the work can move forwards
- Jul 11, 2017 - FAA orders IDOT to suspend all work, again, until the FAA can review for compliance with the law (since neither the county nor IDOT would do it on their own)
- June 2018 - USDOT-FAA sends a letter stating the Edgar County Airport has not violated Grant Assurances numbers 5 and 21.
Obviously, we disagree with this latest letter and will follow-up with an in-depth article on this letter in the coming days. There is a difference between "land" and "air hazard" zoning, there is case law supporting that difference, and we will attempt to explain it in detail.
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