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Airport property lease could land new businesses

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plans to lease land near the Le Mars Airport to a construction company could be key to attracting other new businesses to Le Mars.

A location decision may be made by Patrick Feenstra, of P.W. Feenstra Construction of Queen Creek, Ariz., by the end of this month, according to city officials.

Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff said talks to bring Feenstra's business to Le Mars have been ongoing for approximately six months.

Successful negotiations with Feenstra could make the difference between a Le Mars location or other towns, Kirchoff explained at Tuesday's Le Mars City Council meeting.

"It has to be a business deal where it is fair to him and fair to us," he said.

Kirchoff said Feenstra has looked at locations other than Le Mars, too.

"I'm not throwing that out to have influence here, but in our phone conversations with him 10 days ago, he has decided to locate in Le Mars, if we can come up with the things we're looking at here," the mayor said.

Talks with Feenstra center on the city's airport property, according to Scott Langel, city administrator.

Feenstra's interest in the airport land is to use the property for construction of a hangar for aircraft.

Existing hangars at the city's airport are full, Langel said.

Tuesday's discussion was part of the council agenda for a public hearing on the possible sale of some of the city's airport property to Feenstra.

The offer to sell one parcel of airport property to Feenstra for $25,000 can't move forward because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wouldn't give approval, said Scott Langel, Le Mars city administrator.

City officials then began negotiations to lease the land to Feenstra for 10 years, with the option for two, 10-year renewals of the lease.

A long-term airport land lease with Feenstra could be similar to one recently renewed with Wells Enterprises, according to Langel.

Another example of the city arrangement he gave was with the former Harker's Distribution, in Le Mars.

At Tuesday's meeting, Le Mars Councilwoman Delana Ihrke asked if there were additional costs to the city, if the council approved a lease with Feenstra.

"I'm not wanting to invest a lot in infrastructure at the airport for leased property," Ihrke said.

Councilman Rex Knapp said Ihrke was asking how much the concrete to link the hangar with the airport runway would cost versus how much the lease revenue is to the city.

"So we're not in a negative net position on the deal -- that's what we're trying to figure out," Knapp said.

Those details will be brought back to the council, Langel said.

Ihrke said the property had been advertised for sale or lease.

She asked if any council action was needed at this time.

Council action would let Feenstra know the city was willing to lease airport property for the hangar, Langel said.

Councilman John Rexwinkel said the city needed "to at least cover its costs in a 10-year initial lease" for the airport property.

Time was of the essence because Feenstra hopes to make a location decision by the end of the year, Langel said.

The council voted to authorize a long-term lease with Feenstra, subject to a lease being drawn up, the city not losing money on the lease and FAA approval.

The city and Neal Adler, of the Le Mars Business Initiative and Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce, are working to attract Feenstra's business, which is a commercial construction company.

Since 1993, the business has specialized in building large and complex dairy barns, according to its website.

Projects have been completed in Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

The firm also offers concrete paving and drainage services.

The city is negotiating with Feenstra about the possibility of attracting other businesses, according to the mayor.

However, those specific businesses were not discussed at Tuesday's council meeting.



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