By Paul Chasko
Dateline: June 8, 2012
Today, in her chambers, Judge Katherine B. Emery met with attorneys representing the Finleyville Airport, Union Twp. and Mrs. Mary Parish over the issue of trees blocking the flight path of planes at the end of the airport runway.
As disclosed in prior Union Twp. Board meetings. Certain trees on approximately 15 acres of land owned by Mrs. Mary Parish and other property owners in Union Twp. are in the approach path to the Finleyville Airport runway. Union Twp. has an Airport Hazards Zoning Ordinance in place requiring that the trees be either cut down or trimmed. Union Twp., the Department of Transportation (Aviation Div.) and The Finleyville Airport have offeread to pay to have the trees cut. The trees had a prior appraised value, according to Union Twp. Solicitor Makel, of about $400 (no significant commercial value). If an aircraft should have an accident found to be due to these trees, Union Twp. and the individual board members may be ruled liable as the Twp. is in violation of its own Airport Hazards Zoning Ordinance. The Department of Transportation in its latest and prior inspections has cited the Finleyville Airport to be in violation of the Airport Hazards Zoning Ordinance and has made requests that the trees be cut. Property owners in violation of the ordinance have been resisting having the trees cut down or trimmed.
Judge Emery’s ruling today sought first to remove the immediate threat to air traffic landing and taking off from Finleyville Airport. According to Union Twp. Solicitor Dennis Makel, she ordered all trees in violation of the ordinance to be tagged by a representative of PennDOT’s Aviation Division within two weeks. Then those trees are to be trimmed by mid-July. It’s unclear who will pay for the trimming but PennDOT, in the past, has offered a one-time-only payment for the initial trimming or to cut the trees down entirely - via a grant. She asked that the three attorneys involved witness the tagging and trimming.
Judge Emery also made it clear that she wants all parties involved to reach a permanent solution to this long-standing problem by a transfer of property. The implication, according to Solicitor Makel, was that she will monitor progress toward a permanent solution and intervene if it doesn’t come about in a reasonable time period. This is interpreted by Solicitor Makel to mean continued private negotiations for sale of the property to the Finleyville Airport LLC at a reasonable price and if that fails, the Court is likely to intervene to force the transfer of property by other legal means. The Judge also made it clear that she was not in favor of any covenants attached by property owners to the sale of the property to the Finleyville Airport - past counter-offers to a sale proposed by Union Twp. contained specific-use covenants added by the present owner.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 June 2012 20:13