The apartment building, built originally as a 12-room mushroom factory, according to airport officials, was destroyed in a fire on March 19, 2012, that killed one of the residents. The property is adjacent to the airport and the building is within 250 feet of the airport runway.
For the property owner to rebuild, he had to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation because of the proximity to the airport. Last month, Airport Manager Robert Mohl spoke to the Airport Authority.
“The FAA said ‘no way, the current location is a safety hazard,’” Mohl said. “It can’t go back in the original location.”
Airport Authority Chairman Dick Morrow said “GDOT is not happy about it, but with the FAA ruling, they will reimburse us for the property. We have a clear action for taking the property, but we have to pay for it.”
Morrow said, “he can’t use his property, we have to buy it.”
The apartment owners, James McLendon and his sister Debbie Huffman, have been in negotiations with the city of Griffin, which currently operates the airport. The city has been looking for an option that did not involve buying the property including a possible land swap.
Time is up, as McLendon told the Airport Authority last month, as he’s lost not only the income from rentals since the fire, which he said was $5,300 a month, but if he doesn’t rebuild by March 26, he will have to pay back the $46,000 in insurance money.
Airport officials are estimating it will cost the airport about $100,000 to acquire the land. This includes $25,000 in legal fees, a survey and an appraisal, plus another estimated $75,000 for the property value.
As the Airport Authority has no source of revenue and the city still operates the airport, the city will have to pay for the acquisition of the land up front and get reimbursed from GDOT.