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June 27, 2013

Council hears more about L-3

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council received another earful Tuesday night about the pending negotiations with L-3 Mission Integration concerning a new lease at Majors Field Municipal Airport.

During the Citizens To Be Heard portion of Tuesday’s regular session agenda, David Dreiling addressed comments raised by Steve Ramsey two weeks earlier.

During the June 11 Council meeting, Ramsey referred to sections 120-123 of the Charter, the city’s governing document, which establishes the procedures to be implemented should there be any transfer of control of city property or granting a franchise.

At that time, Ramsey said that while the lease negotiations are not believed to involve a transfer of control of the airport, he urged the Council to follow the guidelines under the sections of the charter which provides that there be three public hearings at three separate, regularly scheduled Council meetings concerning the lease, and the Council would not be able to vote until after the third public hearing.

But Dreiling, who served on a Greenville Charter Review Committee earlier this year, explained Tuesday that the Council is not obligated to follow Ramsey’s suggestion.

“If the lease with L-3 was a franchise, then those would be correct,” Dreiling said. “But those sections do not apply.”

Dreiling said the sections referred to by Ramsey deal with the awarding of a franchise, such as a McDonald’s or Hampton Inn, and are designed to regulate where such entities would be allowed to locate in reference to another, similar business.

“It also limits what the citizens have a right to have,” Dreiling said. “The bottom line is ... you’ll see that they don’t match those sections.”

Ramsey then spoke to the Council, concerning a current appraisal of the airport property.

On May 14, the Council approved a professional services agreement with Airport & Aviation Appraisals Incorporated, for an appraisal of the airport.

Ramsey noted how an appraisal was already performed one year earlier.

“This organization had done an appraisal in May 2012,” Ramsey said.

He presented a copy of the appraisal, which had been conducted to assist city officials in determining  appropriate rental rates at the airport.

“I found it fascinating,” Ramsey said.

In the appraisal, the company reviewed operations by government contractors — including Lockheed, Raytheon, NASA/Dryden and Boeing — at five airports. The appraisal revealed the contractors were paying between $1.54 per square foot in rent at Kelly Field in San Antonio, to $3.36 per square foot rent at the airport in Palmdale, California.

Majors Field, the City of Greenville municipal airport, covers approximately 1,500 acres. L-3 leases much of the airport property from the City of Greenville, with the original lease agreement reached in 1977. The lease agreement is up for consideration again in 2017.

Ramsey said under the terms of the current lease agreement, L-3 is paying approximately three cents per square foot at Majors Field.

The appraisal completed last year suggested the company pay far more than that.

“At this time, we believe that it is appropriate to establish a range of rental value from $2 per square foot to $2.50 per square foot for the subject,” said Winthrop D. Perkins, president of Airport & Aviation Appraisals Incorporated.

The Council did not comment on Dreiling’s or Ramsey’s suggestions and was prohibited from taking action, as it was not listed as an action item on Tuesday’s agenda.

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