Louisville airport board seeks to sell Heritage Creek land as relocation program winds down
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville airport leaders are seeking to end a program that helped move residents from neighborhoods plagued by airplane noise to a new city in southern Jefferson County.
With none of the few dozen eligible homeowners near Louisville International Airport willing to move to Heritage Creek, airport board members set in motion a plan to eventually let developers buy 192 vacant lots and 53 undeveloped acres in the city of 1,100 people.
The Louisville Regional Airport Authority, which owns the property, declared the land as surplus at a meeting on Wednesday.
More than 2,100 homeowners have moved under a voluntary effort to aid people affected by noise when the airport began expanding in the late 1980s.
But only 46 families still qualify for relocation assistance, and half of them aren't interested in moving and the rest don't want to move to Heritage Creek, according to airport documents. The city, formerly known as Minor Lane Heights, is near McNeely Lake Park south of the Gene Snyder Freeway.
Families have had the choice of moving to Heritage Creek since the late 1990s, but “as time has gone on, we've had fewer and fewer of those folks selecting that option,” said Skip Miller, the airport authority's executive director.
In all, the documents show, the airport agency owns 200 developed but vacant lots in Heritage Creek. The Federal Aviation Administration still must allow airport officials to dispose of the land, but it has “indicated receptiveness to the idea,” Miller wrote in a memo to board members.
Airport officials haven't estimated how much money the land would fetch, but Miller said any proceeds would be used to pay for the continued relocation of residents and sound-proofing houses near the airport.
Eight lots and buffer areas would be transferred to Heritage Creek. Miller said it's not yet certain whether those lots would be sold or deeded to the city.
Heritage Creek Mayor Larry Webb, who has lived in the city for nearly 15 years, said Friday that adding more houses would "create a lot more tax revenue."
"I think if they get the right developer, people would buy them because they're building houses all around us," he said.
The Heritage Creek program is part of a larger airport-led relocation initiative that has voluntarily moved 2,112 homeowners away from areas with high noise levels. People in an additional 1,581 homes were forced to move from the Standiford, Prestonia, Highland Park and Tuberose areas, while 150 businesses also were affected.
In all, 416 families agreed to exchange their homes in neighborhoods near the airport for new ones in Heritage Creek.
Now that the airport's land in Heritage Creek is considered surplus property, there's no reason for the airport to hold on to the land, said Mary Rose Evans, the airport authority's vice chair.
“I think the best thing to do is sell it and I'm hoping the FAA lets us use the money for our sound insulation program,” she said.
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