The dispute over the future of the grass airfield near Lesage has ended, so now the Cabell County Commission can occupy its time with more pressing matters.
Commission President Jim Morgan said last week that the county had closed on the sale of the Robert Newlon Airport property to Robert Newlon Airport Inc., which is owned by Carl Bailey, owner of the Fly In Cafe at the airport, for $200,000. The sale came following several months of debate and negotiations.
Bailey had declined to purchase the property in earlier negotiations, but agreed last month to purchase it after the commission voted to move forward with litigation over the leases the county had with Bailey.
Morgan said while commissioners agreed that the things Bailey did at the property had benefits for the county, the terms he was operating under were not covered under the original intent of the leases.
In June, the commission passed a resolution that sought to shut down two businesses on the property they claimed were operating illegally and without approval.
Bailey continued to claim the leases were valid, and the arguments continued until last month when an agreement was reached by both sides.
“There is no constructive reason to rehash this debate,” said Thomas Scarr, a Huntington attorney representing Bailey, after the agreement was reached. “We are glad to have finally reached this point.”
Morgan said the commission is exploring particular use of the $200,000, instead of just placing the money in the general account.
“We would like to look at something for economic development or something like that,” he said.
It’s one less distraction for the county commission at a time when it’s dealing with the cost of housing inmates at the Western Regional Jail and as it handles the need for more office space for the court system. There’s a philosophical argument of whether the county should have been in the airport business at all, but that’s moot now.
The public might never know the behind-the-scenes drama that precipitated this controversy or perhaps kept it going. The important thing now is that it has been resolved in what appears to be the best interest of all parties, which is how the system is supposed to work.