Concerns expressed in eminent domain proceedings: South Bend (IN) Tribune, 6/17/06

Council members voice collective opinion about case against local landowner

By Chris Gautz

Plymouth Common Council members sent a letter to the aviation commission this week asking them to halt eminent domain proceedings against a local landowner.
The letter states; "Although the Common Council understands that the Board of Aviation Commissioners has the authority to proceed with the airport expansion and the land acquisition by condemnation, all members of the Plymouth Common Council have a concern over the present land acquisition, especially in light of the fact that the airport expansion may never be accomplished."
The recommendation has no legal bearing, and serves only as a statement of the council's collective opinion, as the aviation commission is an autonomous government body, created by state statute.

But the city isn't completely helpless in the matter either, as the mayor controls who sits on the commission and the council controls the commission's budget.

Plymouth Mayor Gary Cook said he wouldn't consider replacing board members with those who are against the expansion plan.

"I'm not going to hold that over their heads," Cook said. "I don't think that's the appropriate way to handle business."

Cook has appointed or reappointed three of the four members of the commission.

Commission member Rick Huff is the only one Cook has not appointed, and his term ends this year.

"If he would like to be reappointed, I have no problem in reappointing him," Cook said.

Most council members said they wouldn't consider cutting money from the airport, but Chuck Ripley, R-1st District, and Jack Greenlee, R-4th District said at least a discussion is possible.

"I can foresee some discussion on their budget when the time comes to set that," Ripley said.

Don Gardner, D-2nd District, said the airport is an important part of Plymouth, but doesn't like the way the commission is approaching its plans.

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