Lawsuit may delay airport upgrade plan

A $38 million plan to upgrade Lake in the Hills Airport in McHenry County could face delays while the village pursues legal action to acquire a key parcel, a lawyer for the village said Thursday.

Lake in the Hills, which owns the general aviation airport, plans to widen the lone runway, move a taxiway and apron and relocate and lower Pyott Road, which is too close to an end of the runway. Construction had been scheduled for the summer.

But Michael Smoron, a lawyer for the village, said negotiations with George Athans, president of the Sierra Petroleum Co., which is adjacent to the airport, had stalled. A village lawsuit seeks to acquire a portion of the property.

Lake in the Hills needs about three-quarters of an acre of Athans' 2 1/2-acre parcel to meet the Federal Aviation Administration's requirements for the expansion project, Smoron said.

Athans said the village's offer was unfair.

Smoron said Athans wanted $1 million for the parcel when negotiations began in December. He said Athans agreed to $525,000, but wants the village to build a fountain on the front of his property and a wrought-iron fence, move his parking lot and allow him to put hangars on his land that he could rent to aircraft owners who would have free access to the runway.

"The village felt as if it had no choice but to condemn Athans' property," Smoron said. "He wants to drag this out with the hope that the village will feel it has no choice but to pay through the nose."