Plans for Airport Between Pella and Oskaloosa Halt

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(Radio Iowa) – After 14 years of legal wrangling, plans for a $30 million regional airport between Pella and Oskaloosa are officially paused.

In 2012, elected officials in Pella, Oskaloosa, and Mahaska County signed an agreement creating the South Central Regional Airport Agency to build and operate an airport in rural Mahaska County. Landowners at the site objected to the use of eminent domain to seize “prime farmland” for the project and they sued. Mahaska County Supervisors who took office in 2017 tried to get the county out of the deal. The two cities then sued Mahaska County in an attempt to enforce the agreement.

In June 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled the agreement was unconstitutional. Last Wednesday, the Regional Airport Agency’s board notified the cities they cannot acquire the remaining property necessary for the airport but will continue to own and lease the land purchased for the project.

Orange City, Sioux Center, and Sioux County made a similar agreement in 2004 for a regional airport, but it did not generate the same amount of pushback as the project in Mahaska County did. The Sioux County Regional Airport is located near US Highway 75, in southern Sioux County, and opened in November 2018.

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