Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
LAKE HAVASU CITY – Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steve Moss ruled in favor of the City of Kingman Tuesday with an order granting the city immediate possession of Kingman Airport Authority.
Moss has given KAA 15 calendar days to pursue “special action relief,” and an appeal is expected.
The city filed a notice in December that it would use its power of eminent domain to take possession of Kingman Airport, the surrounding industrial park and other property leased by KAA.
The authority filed a motion in opposition to the eminent domain complaint and to move the case to federal court in Phoenix, but the case was remanded back to Mohave County Superior Court in January.
Judge Moss held an evidentiary hearing on March 21, taking statements from witnesses, reviewing case history and exhibits and considering arguments from both sides.
The court finds “no impediment which would prevent Kingman (from) taking immediate possession of the property,” Moss wrote in his order.
Also, Kingman has shown that it has taken the steps necessary to authorize the initiation of the condemnation action, the judge added.
Kingman is not required to post a cash deposit or bond prior to taking possession as KAA presented no credible evidence for monetary damages it would sustain from losing the lease.
It’s further ordered that Kingman takes possession of the leased airport property subject to all pending debts, contracts and grants, and shall indemnify and hold KAA harmless of all rights and obligations.
There were three issues presented to the court: the public purpose of taking possession; the necessity of taking possession; and probable damages and money deposit required to take immediate possession.
As to the public purpose, Kingman already has legal title to the property in question, with KAA operating the airport and industrial park under the lease agreement.
A series of public workshops was held to discuss KAA’s management and operation of the airport, though KAA’s general counsel canceled the fourth and final workshop because the KAA believed it was turning into a gripe session.
Based on information from the public, along with documentation of mismanagement from the Kingman Airport Users Association, City Council passed a resolution on Nov. 7 that said KAA was mismanaging one of the city’s top assets and failing to improve the airport.
The council found that “the public interest and necessity require the acquisition of the (KAA) leasehold interest.”
In his court order, Moss appointed Lynda Shely as special master to oversee the transfer of KAA’s attorney-client information from KAA’s computers. However, nothing in the order grants Kingman access to the information, including what’s contained in the computers.