Oakland County Planning Airport Expansion
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 10:18AM
Clark Hill

The potential expansion of Oakland/Southwest Airport in New Hudson will result in removal of several homes and acquisition of additional avigation easements.

Oakland County owns the Oakland/Southwest Airport in the southwest corner of Milford and Pontiac Trail Roads in New Hudson. Homes exist to the east on Milford Road and Bonne Terre Street and to the west on Annah Drive.

The County posted material for an Informational Open House relating to an Airport Layout Plan Update.

As part of that document, the County contemplates making changes that would result in removing houses that would be located in the Runway Protection Zone or RPZ as well as acquire avigation easements on other property to remove trees, among other things.

The County’s consultant assisted Lenawee County in the project involving their airport, where I represented a number of similarly situated property owners. In those cases, Lenawee County sought to merely impose an easement over the properties. I tried two of those cases and handled the appeals, which resulted in Lenawee County having to buy all of the homes in the neighborhood. This Michigan Lawyers Weekly article detailed the first trial. The decision to buy the homes located in the RPZ rather than merely seek an easement is likely a result of my results in the Lenawee County cases.

The property owners who will have their homes purchased are entitled to a number of benefits beyond standard just compensation. The County must pay 125% of the value of their homes due to the 2006 amendments to the Michigan Constitution, pay relocation benefits, and potentially provide additional payments if the replacement homes have higher property taxes.

In terms of the avigation easements, the impacts of them can be significant particularly if they facilitate greater air traffic of larger and more obtrusive aircrafts. Additionally, the loss of trees creates an aesthetic impact on homes, particularly where those trees serve as a buffer from an obnoxious use such as an airport.

I have handled a number of airport takings and am currently representing property owners experiencing similar issues in Niles, Michigan. If you are part of the impacted group, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Article originally appeared on Clark Hill Property Owner Condemnation Services (http://michigancondemnationblog.com/).
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