State to remove trees near airport
Runway projects moving forward in Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
Trees located on four separate properties surrounding Clintonville Municipal Airport need to be removed in order for runway reconstruction projects to move forward.
The Clintonville Common Council unanimously approved moving forward with the next steps of the project at its Feb. 14 meeting.
Airport Committee Chair Mark Zachow told the council that the city was notified by the FAA that there are “quite a few” trees near the approach of the runway that need to be removed if the city wants to continue to receive funds for projects at the airport.
He said the FAA will have the state of Wisconsin contact the owners of the properties where the trees are located. The state will pay to have the trees removed and work with landowners to replace them.
“They have to come up with a dollar amount that they can agree on to have this done,” Zachow said.
Ald. Jim Supanich asked if it was a reasonable assumption that employees of the city would not be involved in the removal of the trees.
City Administrator Caz Muske verified that city employees will not be involved with the removal of the trees, adding that the removal will be a contracted service.
“To receive the funding, right now we’re looking at only funding 5% of this project, but to receive the other 95%, that comes from the federal level and the state level, we have to abide by FAA rules and regulations, and these obstructions fall in that,” Muske said.
She added that the state will bid the project out.
Muske also said the trees will need to be removed from properties owned by four different landowners.
“In the event that there is no compensation met, the state has the ability to do eminent domain,” Muske said. “However, there is a very good state effort to come to a compromise and properly compensate the property owners. That is first and foremost the effort and the intention of the state.”
In a Jan. 27 email to Muske, Tyler Leslie of the WISDOT Bureau of Aeronautics said the runway reconstruction projects are being considered “because the pavements for runway 14/32 are nearing a condition where they need to be repaired, if not repaired they will deteriorate further and possibly become not usable.”
Regarding the removal of trees, Leslie said, “Obstruction clearing must be done as the FAA requires that surfaces be cleared for aviation safety. The surfaces must be clear, so aircraft have a path to land safely on the runway. These obstructions also need to be cleared as the FAA requires them to be done for runways to be rehabilitated/reconstructed.”
Leslie went into detail as to roughly how many trees would need to be removed. His analysis indicated:
• Lorge property: 5-10 trees. Some trees shown as obstructions may be within the road right-of-way.
• Much property: 3-5 trees. The large maple in the front yard is the probably worst obstruction.
• MCC Inc. property: 15-30 trees. HThere is a large cluster of obstructions in a forest.
• Westphal property: 6-8 trees.
In the email, Leslie said the process for acquiring the easements would be a real estate transaction, and the easements would be negotiated with the property owners.
Leslie added that property owners would be paid fair market price for the easement rights.
“It is possible that we could plant low threshold trees to replace the ones taken down, but that would be done in the negotiation of acquiring the rights,” Leslie stated in the email.
Leslie also confirmed that eminent domain could be used if an easement agreement is not be reached with a property owner.