Council OKs request to lease airport hangar

June 10, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg plans to get out of the airport business by the end of the year, but the Borough Council on Tuesday agreed to lease one of the hangars until then, and on a month-to-month basis after Dec. 31.

D. Gerald Edwards is not exactly a new tenant, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said Monday. The borough had a 20-year lease with Mountain Brook Orchards, which built the hangar, for the land on which the hangar sits.

Edwards sold the orchard earlier this year and the council agreed Tuesday to lease the hangar to him for $300 per month beginning Sept. 1.


The original 20-year lease is about to expire, at which time the borough becomes owner of the hangar, according to Oyer. Although the lease will be month-to-month beginning in January, it also contains a 90-day cancellation notice, Oyer told council.

"It seems strange at this time that we're talking about it," Oyer told council.

Earlier in the meeting, supporters of the airport asked the council for updates on several requests that they had made in their effort to form an airport authority.

William Forrester, a representative of the group, inquired about several issues, including whether the borough has determined if it will have to repay any federal subsidies used to develop the airport if it is sold.

Borough officials have said they believe their obligation to repay any subsidies expires at the end of this year. Oyer said borough attorney Thomas Finucane has contacted the Federal Aviation Administration about the issue, but has yet to receive a definitive answer.

Forrester also asked whether the borough plans any environmental studies of the 93-acre airport in connection with a recently discovered underground heating oil tank. Oyer said there will be no study, but the borough has hired a contractor to remove the tank.

In answer to another question, Oyer said an appraisal of the airport has not been completed.

The supporters of the airport are looking for a sponsoring municipality for an airport authority.

"We have five or six questions we need answered and they're not being answered," J.R. Sides, owner of the Chambersburg Skydiving Center, said after the meeting.

"We have our business plan written. We have our budget done," Sides said. He said the group also is exploring the idea of a Franklin County or regional airport authority.

While the borough wants to sell the airport, Oyer said Monday the end of the year does not necessarily mean the end of the borough's ownership of the property. That will depend on finding a buyer who will offer a price acceptable to the council.

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