The Paonia Town Council approved an addendum to its 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with Delta County concerning the North Fork Valley Airport. But its Jan. 14 decision was split 3-2.
Delta County is negotiating a possible lease agreement for a cell tower at the airport.
SB Towers wants to build the cell tower and then sell space on the tower. The addendum as approved by the council will have any proceeds be divided so the Town of Paonia would receive 75 percent and the county 25 percent. Those percentages match the ownership of the airport between the town and county.
The agreement says the town's share will be held for future capital improvement projects at the airport. The county is free to hold its share for any purpose. Nothing else was changed to the original Memorandum of Understanding.
SB Towers would lease the land for the tower at about $10,800 a year. The town would get 75 percent of that amount.
Mayor Neal Schwieterman said he does not know the term of the lease because the project is still going through review at the county level.
Ross King, trustee, voiced some objection to the terms of the agreement. "I found it untenable that we have an asset that we get absolutely no return on our asset value. [However] this is a step in the right direction," he said. "If this is a 20-year lease, what that tells me is that we are going to get over $200,000 of revenue, and we will be locked into identifying all $200,000 for capital improvements at the airport."
King wanted to limit the amount dedicated to capital improvements at the airport to $33,000 and any excess returned to the town to use for water, streets or other town projects. The airport would be able to come back and request additional funds for capital improvements over the $33,000 level.
"I don't understand why the county can hold their proceeds for any purpose but we are locked in to doing it for [airport] capital improvements," King said.
Larry Garrett, a pilot at the North Fork Valley Airport, said the airport needs continuous maintenance and updates for lights, paint, fencing and asphalt. There are no huge capital improvements planned. The proceeds would go for "heavy maintenance." The airport has a five- to seven-year plan to fix the roof and to keep the airport and runway in good condition. The lighting system is only a few years old.
Eric Goold, trustee, said that having a cell tower is a "divisive issue on the Western Slope."
King made a motion to amend the agreement to the $33,000 level for capital improvements and the rest to the Town of Paonia. He and Goold voted for that, while Amber Kleinman, Brian Ayers and Sarah Sauter were against. With that motion failing, Sauter offered a motion to pass the addendum as presented. It passed 3-2 with King and Goold opposed.blog comments powered by Disqus