By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO December 30, 2005 Eminent domain is over for now in the Town of Mamakating.
The town board voted to drop its use of eminent domain to take the Wurtsboro Airport on Tuesday.
Supervisor Charles Penna said the board was uncomfortable with the notion of eminent domain. He also said there was no mandate from the public to take over the airport.
He has been in talks with Shalom Lamm for several months on reaching a compromise for a private/public partnership for the airport. Lamm bought the 400-acre property from the Barone estate for $4.5 million earlier this year. Lamm will make a presentation to the town in January.
According to Lamm, the town would purchase the property from him (with state and federal funds) and then lease it to him for 99 years. Lamm would maintain and improve the airport while developing part of the land.
He has proposed building 48 homes as a fly-in community and a 20-cabin bed-and-breakfast in the mold of 1930s British Cotswold cottage architecture. He has dropped his plans to build any lakes on the site. He also plans to build a restaurant on site. There are approximately 100 acres of wetlands around the airport.
The two public hearings have been tilted in favor of town ownership of the land and against private development of the airport.
But Lamm said his development will have a minimal environmental impact while preserving the airport that the community treasures.
He said the lease agreement will ensure the airport is preserved. In addition, he pledged to improve the look of the site, which he said is in poor condition. He has already purchased two high-performance planes which are being constructed in Germany. He said the improved aircraft will attract more glider pilots.
Things have taken a wonderful turn, commented Lamm. We said, Whats good for everybody here?