The Lakeland Airport Commission approved two motions on Aug. 15 regarding the fencing activity associated with the construction of a new 10-foot tall perimeter fence at the Lakeland Airport in Arbor Vitae.
“Clearing and grubbing is underway. They started basically here, just south of the hangars,” Matt Yentz of Strand Associates said.
According to Yentz, clearing and grubbing extended north to Hall Rd., west along Hall Rd., and then south to Sumach Lake Rd.
While there was still work to be done, Yentz said by the end of the day today, the lead machine should make it around to the east end.
Yentz said Marquette Fence out of Marquette, Mich., would start driving in line posts for the chain-link fence on Monday along Hall Rd.
“That would be the first piece of the fence that actually goes into the ground,” Yentz said.
Select vs. clear cutting
At a recent special meeting, the airport commission determined it would like to see a cost estimate to do a change order for part of the fencing project.
The decision for the cost estimated stemmed from concerns neighboring properties had regarding the effect the initially proposed clear cutting would have on their view, thus prompting the commission to consider select cutting instead.
At the meeting last Thursday, Yentz provided the commission with a cost proposal request submitted to Marquette Fence for the select clearing of the areas on the west side Propwash Bay.
“That price came back at $19,000, and that would be to select clear just the trees that are too high,” Yentz said.
This would clear only trees taller than 35 feet above existing ground in some areas, and clearing trees taller than 15 feet in others.
“That is a non-compensable cost to you, so that cost would be all you,” Yentz said. “Due to the size of the trees over there, the stumps, I did also ask them for a price to grub the stumps out.”
Yentz clarified the original bed called for cutting all the trees down.
“That $19,000 is to cut down just the big trees, just to cut, and trying to preserve as much of the undergrowth as possible,” Yentz said. “It’s harder for them, because they gotta try and work around stuff.”
Yentz said he asked for the grubbing so the area may be “mowable” after cutting.
“If it’s just cleared, I think the stumps will be large enough that you won’t be able to mow it, but it’ll have met the need, and maybe you want the brush to kind of grow back up anyway for a buffer,” Yentz said.
Yentz explained they would only grub if the commission elected to pursue clear cutting, and wouldn’t select cut and grub the select stumps.
“So, what the plan is currently is all the trees cut so we’re not stumping it,” commission member Brandon Baker clarified.
“What were they gonna do with the trees, then?” commission member Jeff Hunter asked.
Yentz said the plan was “anything that was clear cut down, they are grinding the tops in place, chipping them, and hauling the logs out,” but any stumps taken as part of the current cleaning and grubbing plan would also be disposed of.
‘A formidable hole’
Another concern raised regarding the fencing project was the amount of holes on the airport property.
“I’ve never — I didn’t have a great appreciation for these holes until recently,” Yentz said. “I went down in one yesterday, and they’re deeper than me. I stood in the bottom of the hole and it’s over my head, so it is a formidable hole.”
Some of the holes on the property were the size of the commission’s conference room Yentz said.
Yentz also mentioned the large topsoil pile on the property, and he had asked for a price to use the topsoil to fill the holes on the property should the commission allow them to do so. He said this was separate from the cutting and grubbing discussion.
“That’s not part of our contract though,” commission chair Ginger Schwanebeck.
Yentz said that was correct, clarifying what leveling was included with the fence was plus or minus one foot in depth, and the holes on the property were “well in excess of that.”
“If they’re gonna move our dirt, $260 a truckload? That’s ridiculous,” Hunter said. “It really is.”
Yentz said there were multiple pieces of equipment used and the dirt would have to be loaded, hauled, dumped, and compacted.
Schwanebeck asked if Yentz thought the proposed price was reasonable.
“It’s high, but it’s not unreasonable,” Yentz said.
Yentz said he was asking for the commission’s approval to use its dirt to fill the holes, with the alternative being the company hauling dirt in, but that he hadn’t gotten the cost for that.
“There’s two questions that I need direction from the commission on,” Yentz said. “One, is it allowed that we can use the topsoil pile, and then two, how would you like to proceed with the clearing on the west side of Propwash Bay.”
After some more discussion, the commission approved a motion, 3-1, to allow Marquette Fence to use the airport’s topsoil to fill in the holes on the property if it is the best alternative.
As for the question of clearing and grubbing, Yentz said it was his recommendation was that it all was cleared.
“I truly believe that if we select cut, it is gonna look horrible. It’ll look very, very messy, and I believe that the residents are actually gonna be less happy with it than if we cleared it all.”
Schwanebeck said clear cutting was already part of the project and compensable, whereas select cutting was not.
“They (the residents) indicated to me that they felt it would be rather reckless of the commission to waste money spending it on something that could take care of the whole problem into the future by clear cutting, which is covered in the grant, in the contract, as opposed to clear (select) cutting, which then leaves some trees that are eventually gonna be penetrations,” Schwanebeck said, stating she had given it a lot of thought and agreed.
Schwanebeck said the commission “had to be reasonable” and “to spend money to assuage the concerns of a very small percentage of our four town’s population taxpayer base” wasn’t something she was sure was the right thing to do.
Yentz said it was his recommendation to grub the area if it was fundable.
Schwanebeck clarified that if the grubbing was paid for by the project, then the area would be grubbed, but if the commission had to pay for it, then another decision would have to be made.
The commission approved another motion, 3-1, to clear cut and grub the area, if grubbing was fundable.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]