Johnson County Airport Commission employee Dave Ditsworth (center) was recognized for 5 years service at the Sept. 28 JCAC meeting by Lee Harris, commission vice-chairman (left) and Larry Peet, deputy director. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner news
The Johnson County Airport Commission (JCAC) joins Olathe in approving a cell phone tower and considered a building owner’s request for a reduction in land lease rate at their monthly meeting on Sept. 28.
Hedge Lane Cell Tower
On Sept. 6, Olathe approved a special use permit to allow XCell Towers II and Verizon Wireless to build a 150 foot tall monopole cell tower at approximately 171st and Hedge Lane.
The property is within the statutory one mile airport area, which means this special use permit requires county approval in addition to the city.
On Sept. 28 the airport commission conducted a public hearing and reviewed the project proposal, in order to advise the board of county commissioners (BOCC) if the tower construction is compatible with the airport. BOCC will make the final determination.
A requirement is submission and approval of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 7460. A representative of the applicant’s said he believed the form had already been processed and would soon be returned.
Commission also requested a ‘second look’ from the FAA for reassurance that the height of the tower would not cause any negative effects to approach instrumentation or procedures.
After some discussion, it was decided that the height would be amended to 160 feet, to account for a ten foot lightning rod on top.
The commission voted to recommend BOCC approve the cell tower proposal, subject to the above conditions being met.
Land Lease Modification Request
Via telephone conference call, representatives of an Indianapolis-based real estate investment trust, presented their request for a reduction in the ground lease rate for property on 157th Street.
The 446,500 sq. ft. building currently pays 42 cents per square foot to JCAC. That rate is set to increase to 45 cents in 2017.
The real estate representatives asked for the 2017 rate to be reset to 30 cents per square foot.
The previous tenant exercised an option to terminate their lease and moved their operation to Dallas in late 2014.
The realty company representative said that since then, there have been challenges in efforts to attract a new tenant, largely because of costs.
The representative also noted the expiration of the 50 per cent tax abatement in 2017 would add additional cost.
Airport commissioners were told that negotiations with a potential new tenant were continuing, but they had given a bottom line number.
The representative said he was not allowed to name the potential new tenant, but described it as a nationally known company and said it would bring 300-500 jobs.
Greg Martinette, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC, has also had discussions with the potential new tenant.
Martinette agreed that it was a good company, saying it was a company that New Century would be proud to have as a tenant, and one that would help attract other businesses.
Commissioners still had concerns regarding a reduction request that would reduce JCAC revenue by roughly $50,000.
“It gives me a little heartburn to see a $50,000 hit, and I don’t see any benefit to the airport,” said one member.
“We’re the ones making the sacrifice here, if we were to agree to do this. No one else is making a sacrifice,” said Lee Harris, commission vice chairman.
The realty company representative replied that he would prefer to describe it as something of mutual benefit to all parties involved.
Regardless of if this tenant comes the realtors continue to pay the rent, no matter what, said Harris.
At another point, Harris said that he questioned if this issue would be a deal breaker with the potential tenant.
The representative said he wasn’t sure about that.
Wrapping up the conference call, Harris said “It doesn’t look like we have any interest at this point in time in making any adjustment at all.”
“We can’t make a reduction without some sort of quid pro quo. I think that’s probably the position of this commission at this time,” he concluded.
SWJCEDC
Martinette updated members on a number of economic development projects, including expansion plans for UniLever, a company interested in the old Royal Tractor building and another project possibly building a new 250-400,000 sq. ft. cold storage food distribution facility west of UniLever.
See JCAC, page 8
From JCAC, page 1
The potential tenant for the building at on 157th Street was discussed again during Martinette’s presentation.
Harris again voiced the opinion that the potential client was not going to walk away from the deal.
“That’s what I understand right now, but if I get an emergency call from the company, I would like to call you guys back and say, look we may have a big issue, do you guys want to reconsider here,” Martinette said.
“Do not open that door for them,” replied Harris.
Martinette also informed members that Edgerton would no longer be a member of SWJCEDC in 2017.
“As of Jan. 1 they will not be a member of the team. We will focus on our 100 plus members, which include New Century Air Center and the city of Gardner,” said Martinette.
When asked if he knew what what motivated Edgerton to withdraw, Martinette said that they told him they wanted an entity that represents them100 percent.
Rail Agreement
JCAC approved a rail agreement with Alterris, a company from Houston, Tex,. Alterris becomes the first JCAC customer that does not have a building on the property.
Larry Peet, deputy director of JCAC, offered details: DuPont is making an emulsifier for the baking industry. A by-product of that process is acedic acid. Alterris purchases the acedic acid from DuPont. (Acedic acid, when diluted, is known as vinegar.) JCAC moves Alterris’s railroad tanker cars into the DuPont facility to be filled and back out to await further transport.
The process itself is not new – this activity has been occurring for some time. Basically, the only change is that JCAC will now be billing Alterris for the rail services instead of DuPont.
Seeking Executive Director; Other Items
• Commission was informed that the process of recruitment for the position of airport executive director is getting underway.
Ads are being placed and will be allowed to run for at least 30 days.
Interviews and review could take place in November. It’s possible that the position could be filled in December, but it was noted that the holiday seasons might lengthen the process.
Three members volunteered to serve on the executive director search committee.
Aaron Otto currently serves as interim executive director.
• JCAC employee Dave Ditsworth was recognized for 5 years service at the start of the meeting.
• After much previous evaluation, a $229,000 environmental assessment project with Burns and McDonnell was approved.
In a separate vote, commission approved a grant application to KDOT, which if awarded, would pay a portion of the Burns and McDonnell project cost.
• JCAC received a budget update and a review of changes to the commission by-laws.
JCAC meets at 9 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday every month, in the JCAC Administration Building at One New Century Parkway.