Land Values Too High Around Springdale Airport

SPRINGDALE - Land abutting the Springdale Municipal Airport isn't as valuable as its owner thinks because the 6.69 acres doesn't have direct access to the airfield, city Finance Director Wyman Morgan said.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Lloyd Hicks, Morgan said the family's 2000 appraisal included an "extraordinary assumption" that the property had direct access to the airfield.

Hicks manages the property for his mother, Jeanne Hicks.

The Hicks' appraisal by Belote and Associates of Fayetteville put the land's value at $440,000. The city's 2006 appraisal by Reed and Associates of Springdale, valued the land at $428,000.

"I felt like there had to be something unusual in that appraisal for it to be valued that high in 2000," Morgan said in an interview.

The "extraordinary assumption" in the Hicks' appraisal accounted for $25,000 per acre, or $167,250 in total value, Morgan said. That makes the 2000 appraisal $272,750, Morgan said.

The city is still offering $428,000 for the land. That offer will stand until at least April 19, when the Airport Commission convenes. Federal Aviation Administration guidelines won't allow the city to offer less than the appraised value.

The city wants the land so it can extend the 5,302-foot runway by more than 300 feet.

The extension will make Springdale more competitive in fuel sales, airport officials have said.

If the Hickses do not accept the offer or show a willingness to negotiate, the city could proceed with condemnation.

The city first made its offer in October.

Lloyd Hicks said he knows the city will soon own the land by sale or condemnation. He just needs more time to clear out the 4,560-square-foot warehouse that his father, Henry Hicks, built in 1972.

"I'm pretty overburdened," Hicks said Thursday. "It seems like things are coming down too fast right now. All I ask is for more time. Ease up for a while and let me clear some stuff out." Henry Hicks was a mechanical engineer and a professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville for more than 30 years. He used the warehouse to build portable irrigation pumps, recreate crash scenes for court cases, and in general, give free rein to his creative mind.

Henry Hicks died in June 1997, but the lathe, the foundry and the packed cabinetry remain.

Lloyd Hicks said he can't walk away from the warehouse and leave its contents to the mercy of the city. He spent years on the property working with his father. He also planted trees there.

"This not being part of my life will be an adjustment," Hicks said. "But I don't expect [the city] to have any attachment to the land."

This article was published 03/31/2007

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