FAA forces county to buy Rachor's land

FAA forces county to buy Rachor's land

John Rachor has found himself in an awkward position days before he takes office as Jackson County commissioner.

Sometime next year, Rachor will receive a $181,000 check from the county for a portion of land he owns at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is providing the funding to the county for the purchase.

"Earlier this year, I was saying this won't look good if I get a check from the county just after I got sworn in," he said. "I was worried about the image of getting a check — the impropriety of it."

Airport officials have approached Rachor because of an FAA rule that requires airports to own all land within 750 feet from the center line of the runway.

Rachor, who purchased 2.2 acres in 2007 at 4578 Table Rock Road for $340,000, had built a parking lot as part of a $1.2 million project on the land. The parking lot is on about a half-acre that falls within the 750-foot rule.

If he were a regular citizen, Rachor said he might fight the FAA and the county over forcing him to sell the land because it interferes with his development plans. Instead of building another helicopter hangar on his property, Rachor said he will have to move his parking lot into that area. Rachor said he was also not particularly happy with the appraisal price.

"I really didn't want to sell it," he said. "What am I going to do? Sue the county? Sue the Board of Commissioners?"

Earlier, Rachor told the county he would like to get the sale of the land wrapped up before the primary, but with appraisals and other bureaucratic delays, the process just dragged on.

Now his fears have been realized. On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners will consider approval of an agreement to purchase his property. If the sale is approved, a check won't be issued until after Rachor takes office Jan. 3.

Commissioner C.W. Smith said the county would have no interest in the property except that the FAA is requiring it to be purchased.

"Despite the matter-of-fact business about this, people are going to assume there is some kind of special treatment," he said. "There is not. We wouldn't be doing it if the FAA didn't insist on it."

Airport Director Bern Case said he can recall fewer than a dozen other properties the airport had to purchase over the years to meet FAA rules.

A property next to Rachor's also will be purchased in the near future, Case said.

Once those two properties are acquired, the airport should own all the properties within the 750-foot FAA limit, Case said.

Several years ago, the airport bought a property north of Vilas for runway lights, he said.

The airport is also in negotiations with the Oregon Department of Transportation, which wants to build a Highway 62 bypass close to the airport.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

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