KINGMAN – The lawyer hired by the City Council to go after Kingman Airport Authority sent a notice of condemnation to the KAA board stating that all airport property would be taken over by the city within 20 days, following up on a Nov. 7 letter of the same intent.
“The interests of tenants of the Kingman Airport Authority will be assumed by the City of Kingman so that such tenants’ interests in their respective leaseholds will remain unaffected by this condemnation proceeding,” the notice says.
Daryl Williams, of the Phoenix law firm Baird Williams & Greer, said there’s a “difference of opinion” between the city and airport management over operations at the city-owned property.
“The city wants its airport back, and I think I can give it to them,” Williams said Thursday. “It’s a conundrum for me. Why would volunteer board members want to hang on? I might imagine the reasons would be of self-interest for a volunteer board member to hang on.”
The condemnation notice is simply the city exercising its right of eminent domain, Williams explained. City Council has taken action as sovereign owner of the airport and 1,100-acre industrial park to take back its interest in the property.
Cities, counties and states will exercise eminent domain to take private property for public use such as roadways and freeway exits.
The notice of condemnation gave an overview of reasons for the action, generally that the city is not satisfied with KAA’s operation of the airport. KAA is obligated to reinvest a portion of revenue from land sales into improvements at the airfield within five years. The Kingman Airport Users Association has complained for years that airport management has ignored their concerns about deteriorating conditions.
Andy Federhar, another Phoenix lawyer but hired by the KAA to defend its 25-year lease agreement with the city, said the notice of condemnation is just that – a notice.
“It has no authority, it has no power,” Federhar said. “Before the Kingman Airport Authority vacates the premises, a judge has to tell them to do that. That’s just the start of the process, not the end of the process.”
After 20 days, it’s up to the city to file a lawsuit, Federhar added.
That’s precisely what Williams intends to do. He’ll have the case heard in Mohave County Superior Court, and he’s confident the city will win.
“In condemnation cases, they’re always granted. The judge knows when a sovereign asks for their property, they might as well give it to them because it’s going to happen. Then all that’s left is how much they’re going to pay for the property.”
City Councilman Travis Lingenfelter said the effort to regain control of the airport has come a long way since PEAK (Partnership for Economic Advancement in Kingman) was formed in 2015 to make sure workforce opportunities were being created for Kingman’s youth.
“Kingman needs good-paying jobs that provide benefits, and the city is now taking measurable steps toward slowing the outward migration of our Kingman youth, who have been leaving the City of Kingman after high school graduation in pursuit of economic opportunities that their hometown has not been able to provide to them,” Lingenfelter said in an email to the Daily Miner.