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No agreement on HIA development this month, officials say

By , - Last modified: April 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Harrisburg International Airport officials said today they won't be signing an agreement this month to have a company redevelop a property across the road from the airport, mainly due to federal reviews and contract details.

“This is a unique agreement,” HIA spokesman Scott Miller said. “It’s a little different than what you normally would do.”

HIA’s governing board, the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, has its next meeting on April 24. SARAA could sign an agreement with an as-yet unidentified developer by the May 22 meeting, Miller said.

He declined to identify the company airport officials are negotiating with but said it’s a company with regional recognition that’s done a lot of work in Central Pennsylvania.

The primary delay, besides contract details with the only company that submitted a proposal for the 22 acres on the north side of Route 230, is a review by the Federal Aviation Administration, Miller said.

Because FAA money was used to acquire the property that is now HIA -- including the proposed development tract -- from the Air Force, there are many rules and regulations about how that property can be used, said Tim Edwards, SARAA’s executive director.

In order for it to developed with non-aviation uses, such as stores and restaurants, the FAA needs to grant HIA a release on the property, he said. The state acquired the property in 1969 after Olmsted Air Force Base closed, and SARAA began operating it in 1998.

“We just ask the FAA to release that property for non-aviation purposes,” Edwards said. The airport doesn’t expect a problem, because the parking lot that’s to be redeveloped is not usable for aviation, he said.

The paperwork was filed with the FAA’s district office in December, and the only time stipulation was a 30-day publishing in the Federal Register, he said. At this point, a review by the U.S. Department of Defense could add time to the process, he said. The DOD would review it because of the property’s former military status.

Edwards said he has not heard of any sequester-related delays in the FAA review of such releases.

The airport has to wait on the final approval from FAA before it can approve the agreement with a developer, Edwards said.

Airport officials delayed a decision in late March, too.

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