Edgar County

Edgar County Airport – Federal Airport Grant again halted until FAA reviews IDOT decision –

EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Recent reports in the local paper stating that the “taps are back on” for federal funding are turning out to be more fake news.  County Chairman Voigt’s assertion these complaints stopped the repairing or replacing the rotating beacon light at the airport doesn’t hold water either.

All the county had to do was write a check from the county farm fund to pay for the repairs – since the county farm fund comes from leasing of airport property and is to be used exclusively for airport purposes. Attempts by Gary Henry to place the blame on Bogue’s insistence on the Edgar County Airport simply following the laws they are operating under is baseless. The sole blame lies on the county.

Last week, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Intermodal Transportation, issued a letter to Jeff Voigt, County Board Chairman, saying that they are confident Edgar County’s Airport is compliant “with the intent” of the General County Airport and Landing Field Act. We found it quite telling IDOT’s Chief Counsel didn’t say the Edgar County Airport actually complied with the law, because we know they did not, and are not, compliant with the law.

Even more ironic is Gary Henry’s claim that IDOT apologized for the delay in providing an answer to the County.  Reading the letter proves Henry’s claim to be fake news as there is no apology found in the letter sent by IDOT Chief Counsel.

In previous work-stoppages with this grant, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) had stated that prior to any funds being allocated to the Edgar County Airport, the FAA must review and approve any decisions made by IDOT.

IDOT received a letter yesterday, informing them not to issue any federal grants to the Edgar County Airport until they, the FAA, had conducted their own analysis of the zoning issue.

County Chairman Jeff Voigt acknowledged he was aware of this new development.

The only current issue is whether the “hazard zoning” the county thinks applies, will substitute for the “land zoning” required under state law – we believe it will not substitute as each have their own purpose, and the more stringent requirements apply.

We believe it does not substitute in several ways. First, there was never a 3-person zoning commission established to develop zoning as required by the County Airport and Landing Field Act, and, second, “land” is still not zoned as required by state law.

The Airport Zoning Act does not repeal and replace the more stringent requirements of the General County Airport and Landing Field Act for “land” zoning and a three-person zoning commission – which is a similar circumstance to the below case from 1967:

Clearly, the Aeronautics Act was not intended to and does not cover the whole subject matter of the Act conferring zoning powers upon the counties. No repeal may be implied on this ground; consequently, no extended discussion is required on this point.County of DuPage v. Harris, 231 NE 2d 195 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1967 

“The Airport Zoning Act (Ill Rev Stats 1965, c 15 1/2, pars 48.1-48.112, incl.) empowers the Department to adopt zoning regulations for an airport hazard area related to publicly-owned airports. This Act, however, also expressly recognized the zoning powers of counties.”

We are of the opinion that the control over restricted landing areas conferred upon the Department of Aeronautics by the Aeronautics Act presupposes compliance with local zoning ordinances. In those areas appropriately zoned for restricted landing areas, the Department may then assume jurisdiction and control over the landing area so long as the local zoning ordinances are not violated.

In Edgar County’s case, there is no local zoning ordinances, and therefore no jurisdiction or control may be had.

IE: Land zoning applies to the uses of land, and air hazard zoning restrict air hazards. They are two separate zoning issues, and the General County Airport and Landing Field Act required zoning over the land in order to improve or expand airports and landing fields.
.

3 replies »

  1. I would suppose the FAA (Federal Government) may be getting a bit concerned with the cavalier attitude of the State with their interpretation of the laws concerning their airports. While the state government employees making or being directed to make these determinations will never be held accountable in any real measure – the difficulties for the FAA will be “were federal funds inappropriately or illegally obtained by the airport (and the State DOT, Division of Aeronautics)” in non compliance with Federal and State grant requirements and FAA Airport Grant Assurances (which the State must also comply and certify due to the State Block Grant Program) and what is the ultimate recourse. (Maybe that is why some at Aeronautics want to get out of the State Block Grant program?!)

  2. I would believe that Edgar County should make public the approach plans and hazard area maps (unless they are easily referenced from an IDOT Aeronautics site) so the public can familiarize themselves with the affected areas. Also, would this action only apply to the current ALP (and associated areas) or also include any future ALP (plans for airport improvements/expansions)? Perhaps this “protection” would not protect current approach areas or RPZ areas and most certainly not future areas from non-compatible land use that may adversely impact the utilization of the airport while not contributing to an actual penetration of an approach or obstruction plane. As this moves forward I believe everyone should be aware of the real issues. While IDOT’s Chief Counsel opinion is appreciated it is necessary to make sure all potential situations are addressed if the “letter of the law” is not being technically addressed with this “solution”. The last thing anyone would want is that this solution is found to not be acceptable and further federal and state funding may have been inappropriately authorized. This interpretation seems to be quite an expansion of the hazard zoning it references.

  3. Great article John, and factually correct as always. This past January our county board voted to spend 2.8 million dollars of uncollected tax and revenue over the next 20 years and to keep the airport open in exchange for a 1.3 million dollar project today. This is after receiving a letter from the Illinois Division of Aeronautics on April 6, 2016 spelling out the counties requirement for land zoning, something we still do not have…..and most importantly…..without any requirement for the flawed hazardous zoning resolution passed by the Edgar County Board.

    It’s not going to work, but if it had, our grandchildren would be really happy to learn how much they owe because of their own grandparents folly and this airport; that is, when they learn how to read.

    There remain enormous financial burdens to be resolved. For example, the Edgar County Courthouse roof costing between 4 and 5 hundred thousand, 4 hundred additional thousand to be paid on past debt…no jail and selling assets to pay bills, continuous money shuffling to pay bills and the overspending by county departments. All of this is and will destroy what’s left of this county. All for only a few Edgar County Residents: or for the sale of concrete. We’ve lost our integrity, honesty, reputation and we’re rapidly becoming an example of Illinois corruption at a national level. Thank you for your great service to the county Carl Farnham, Jeff Voigt, Dan Bruner, Phil Ludington, Andy Patrick, Derek Lorenzen and John Chittick.

    In this matter, all any citizen has to do, is read the law as John Kraft has linked in this article… to discover the yet to be announced truth regarding this ridiculous path our county board has taken us down.
    Because of the county board’s insistence to ignore that letter for more than a year, and the law, it becomes increasingly evident to the FAA and others that every airport expansion completed at the Edgar County Airport was completed in violation of Illinois law.

    Does anyone really believe the Federal and State government will completely and totally ignore and forgive 8 or so million dollars of miss-spent federal funds here in Edgar County after this circus comes to an end?

Leave a witty comment