Urban Fold

Airport Easements Cause Uproar

A new airport overlay district in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has nearby homeowners crying 'taking!' Airport officials say, 'All we're trying to do is make sure we have good neighbors.'

"The new regulation, pushed by the board that runs the airport and approved by the City Council last spring, requires residents to sign a special easement to get a building permit. That's causing headaches for homeowners planning even small tasks such as putting in a new fence. Worse than that, critics say, the agreement also takes away a person's right to sue the airport over noise or pollution.

Airport managers say the easements are a "pre-emptive strike" meant to protect the site from the kind of lawsuits filed in other parts of the country. City officials note they are scaling back some of the more strict elements, including requiring easements for small improvements.

But some property owners in the area question at least the wisdom of the easements, while others challenge the very legality of the concept.

"It's a taking. It's stealing. Call it whatever you want," said Jon Schmidt, a vice president with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls, a nonprofit group that owns several parcels in the area."

Full Story: New rules burden landowners

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