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‘We already know how you feel’

August 06, 2019 by Brian Jopek

The Lakeland Airport Commission determined at the end of a special meeting last week it would like a cost estimate to do a change order for part of the perimeter fence project. 

The nearly $1.1 million project began in mid-July with clear cutting of trees on airport property. 

However, there are five areas along the perimeter where many of the trees to be clearcut are where there is very little room between some of the airport’s residential neighbors and airport property. 

In other words, as some of the residents have mentioned in meetings with the airport commission last year, the clearcutting means the “buffer” of trees and other vegetation along airport’s property line would disappear and they would end up with a view of nothing but a 10 foot tall fence. 

The neighbors became alarmed again when the clearcutting began last month and a few of them were at last week’s special meeting. 

Commission chairperson Ginger Schwanebeck, at the beginning of the meeting let everyone know she really had no intention of allowing public comment because she felt the airport commission was very aware of their concerns. 

“I believe we already know how you feel about this issue,” she said. “And correct me if I’m wrong, but you wouldn’t be here if you were in favor of clearcutting to the edge of our property. Being as we understand that, I think we’ll just, at this point in time, allow you to observe and appreciate your being here.”

The commission discussed the matter for another 40 minutes with the fence designer, Matt Yentz of Strand Associates and ultimately came to the conclusion a change order for select cutting trees in those areas would be something they would consider. 

Matt Messina with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Aeronautics was also at the meeting and said, basically, the airport commission would have to cover the cost for the change order. 

Yentz was directed to get that cost estimate and the commission plans to meet again before its next regularly scheduled meeting later this month to further discuss — and possibly make a decision on — the change order. 

In the meantime, all cutting activity in the five areas in question has ceased until further notice. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

 

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