Why Are Airport Commissions So Aggressive?

The notion of the "clear zone", barring construction and clearing all vegetation can offer an absolute disaster for the property owner involved. The notion that a "vegetation management easement" is simple minor effect often does not meet with the reality of the situation.

An airport’s acquisition of a vegetation easement means that the property owner will have a "clear cut" or flat land parcel after the easement is acquired. This is not a simple "easement" but rather a destruction of a valuable property right.

Sussex County is making exactly the same mistakes as those made in Lenawee County, Michigan.


County Assistant Attorney David Rutt said the county wants less than five acres of the parcel and has offered $37,000 in total for an easement on about half of the property and for out-right purchase of the other half.

Fraipont wants the county to purchase the entire parcel including her house – which is an offer, she said, county officials had previously made – not just the wooded acres. She said the county had her entire parcel appraised at $800,000, which is lower than her appraisal. “It’s not that unfair, but would need to be negotiated up a little,” she said. “I just want what I have now, and what was promised to me since day one.”

She’s convinced she would never be able to sell her house – where she has lived since 1989 – if the property were divided and the woods clear cut. “This house is my future and my main asset for my retirement,” she said. She says she couldn’t rebuild her house for less than $1 million.

Rutt said the county does not need the entire parcel. “We have no other use for the rest of the property, and to purchase it would be a waste of taxpayer’s money,” Rutt said. “We’ve filed for condemnation and immediate possession based on the value of our appraisals.”