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County Airport Overcharged?

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:22 PM EDT

A land purchase deal between a Rutherford County Commissioner and the Airport Authority has comes into focus - with some questioning why the county paid more than the property was worth.

Any pilot landing on the north end of the runway at the Rutherford County Airport can see the oak tree that's too tall.

The airport has been in violation of FAA safety guidelines for years because of the tree and Airport Authority Director Bob Howard says it needs to come down.

But property owner Julius Owens, who is the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners won't chop it down.

"Just didn't want to do it with me living there," said Owens Wednesday.

So the airport was left with two pricey options. The cheapest at $121,000 dollars was to move the runway.

"If we displace the threshold we're going to have nothing," said Howard. "No asset."

So on Monday Airport Authority members - who are appointed by commissioners - voted to buy Owens' 10 acres of land - in order to get that one tree - for $300,000.

"That was his price, that was his price, and he could have said 500,000," said Howard.

The county appriased the land for $108,000 dollars. Howard says two other appraisers put the property's value at $170,000. Owens asked for $300,000.

When asked how he got to that price, Owens answered: "The state had made it known that they wanted the property, there was two willing buyers."

Three commissioners have reportedly expressed concern about the deal.

Ninety percent of the money Owens will receive is coming from federal grant money.

The remaining $30,000 will come from county taxpayers.

County Airport Overcharged?

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