Saturday, October 4, 2003

Airport settles land dispute

Family will give up farm for $8.5 million

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HEBRON - A six-year dispute over the value of a nearly 200-year-old farm ended Friday when Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport officials agreed to pay $8.5 million for 80 acres being taken for a new runway.

"We would have rather kept our farm than take the money," said Jeanette Tanner, who will split the money with relatives. "It was part of our heritage. Our family was here close to 200 years. Now some of our history is being bulldozed away in the name of progress."

The settlement means the family will get approximately $106,000 per acre for the farm, known locally as the Conner family farm. That is $73,000 per acre more than airport officials offered in 2001, but $13,000 per acre less than a jury award in May.

That verdict was later thrown out by a judge.

Tanner said the family would have taken $50,000 per acre in 2001, but airport officials balked at the price.

Phil Taliaferro, a Covington attorney who represented the family, said the deal speaks for itself.

The Conners were also represented by Florence attorney Steve Dallas, who couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

The Conner family farm and 13 other landowners' holdings were in the way of the airport's new 8,000-foot north-south runway on the western side of the airport, as well as a 2,000-foot extension of the western end of the existing 10,000-foot east-west runway.

"Our fight was not only for the heritage of my family," said Tanner said, "but for everyone else in Boone County."

It is unclear how the settlement will affect what airport officials have to pay for remaining properties.

"We knew if we sat down, negotiated and showed our case to the judge, we could get a figure lower than what the jury had originally awarded," said airport spokesman Ted Bushelman.

Airport attorneys could not be reached Friday evening for comment.

It was unclear Friday how airport officials planed to pay the additional money for the land.

The family already had granted the airport access to the land to begin construction on the $236 million runway project, so the legal battle had not delayed construction, officials said. The new runway and extension are scheduled for completion in late 2005.


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