The Platteville Municipal Airport is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the first phase of an expansion project, including two new taxiways to accommodate future construction of up to 12 hangars.
The city had another idea it sought to take flight during its anniversary year — get the airport into the city.
The city Plan Commission grounded the proposal, so to speak, to annex the airport into the Town of Platteville by tabling the proposal on a 5–4 vote Monday night.
Common Council president Eileen Nickels broke the 4–4 tie to table the proposal. Commission members John Miller, James Winters, Scott McDowell and Robin Cline voted against tabling.
The proposal would allow the city to collect property taxes from the owners of hangars on the airport grounds. Those property taxes now go to the Town of Platteville.
The proposal would require the city to reimburse the Town of Platteville $877.38 per year for the next five years for the property taxes the town would lose.
The other reason, as described by Community Planning and Development Director Joe Carroll, is to allow the city to enforce statutes and regulations at the airport.
“This would bring in building inspectors and zoning … also police enforcement,” said Carroll, who added annexation “could help offset the expenses the city just incurred to expand the airport.”
The city paid for 5 percent of the $870,000 cost of the taxiway project through airport revenues. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation funded the rest of the project.
The airport is nearly four miles south of the city limits, but state law allows annexation of non-contiguous property owned by a city.
The city proposal includes rezoning the airport from Grant County’s M-1 Heavy Industrial zoning to the city’s Institutional zoning.
The city’s Airport Commission voted, with one member opposed, to endorse the annexation plan in October.
Commission chair Bill Kloster said members expressed concern about “the increased cost for owners of hangars … We certainly don’t want to do something that will deter” the airport’s growth.
The proposal was opposed by three people who spoke Monday.
“I see no reason to consider this annexation whatsoever,” said at-large Ald. Mike Denn, a commission member. “They’ve done an awful good job running that place.”
“The city owns the airport,” said Miller. “The city could be on the hook for anything whether the airport is in the city or not.”
“I haven’t heard anything to make me say this makes the most sense,” said commission member Wendy Brooke. “I haven’t heard the case.”
The other opponent who spoke was Jason Klovning, M.D., owner of one of the hangars.
“I already lease the land from the city,” he said, with an escalator clause for rent. He estimated annexing into the city, and subsequently paying city property taxes instead of town property taxes, would increase his property taxes by 20 to 25 percent, or $600 to $700.
“I don’t know at what point enough is enough,” he said. “I’m not getting any additional city services from you. I don’t really understand what I’m going to get out of this at all.”
Platteville police would patrol the airport if it was annexed into the city. The airport is now the law enforcement responsibility of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. An airplane was stolen from the airport in 2011 and has never been recovered.
The airport’s six-year master plan includes expansion of Runway 15/33 from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet. Dirt that was excavated to grade the taxiways is now at the end of 15/33 for future use to grade the extra 1,000 feet.