For the past several months, the Ardmore Development Authority has been meeting in executive session to discuss a right of way for a transloading project at the Ardmore Airpark. Highway 53 LLC, headed by Tim Duit, owned the right of way. The ADA had been under the impression a verbal agreement was in place but that was not the case as work was put on hold until access could be gained through negotiation or legal means.
On May 6, the ADA paid $68,910 for the right to build on the right of way following a condemnation hearing. Land commissioners appointed by the court provided a valuation of 22 ½ acres, which allowed the project to move forward. Estimates for the project to be completed were for fall before the snag with the right of way.
"The act of paying the money is tantamount to taking ownership," Brian Carter, Ardmore Development Authority Interim President & CEO, said.
The ADA's payment could be step one in what could be an extended affair as Highway 53 LLC can file an exception, which could result in a larger amount paid to the company. Carter said the ADA had been involved in negotiations previous to the condemnation and previous proposals had been turned down. It was not known the amount offered for the right of way.
"Verbal negotiations are confidential," Carter said. "All of the offers were turned down and I can say it was for more (than was paid through condemnation). We had negotiated outside of condemnation to the maximum extent possible without disruptions to the timeline."
The first stage is ready to begin which consists of clearing and grading the land for the installation of tracks leading to the transloading facility at the airpark. Carter said work has taken place around the right of ways in preparation to move forward.
In purchasing the right of ways, Carter said the ADA has delivered on its obligations to Oklahoma Sovereign Development, who is spearheading the project at the airpark. Now, it is just a matter of seeing completion of the project and waiting to see if the condemnation spurs additional legal actions on the part of Highway 53, LLC.
"There could be a timetable of a couple of years," Carter said.