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Airport buying Ferncliff land for runway project

The Asheville Regional Airport is buying 15 acres adjacent to its property for a $64 million runway expansion.

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners last week gave its blessing to the sale of the property from Ferncliff Industrial Park developer Vaughn Fitzpatrick and a family trust for $1,497,741, or $97,700 per acre. Under state law, a local government body buying property in another county must first get approval of the Board of Commissioners where the property is located.
The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority needs the property for the new runway that will replace the current 50-year-old runway. The airport needs to buy the land to satisfy FAA requirements relating to a buffer around the airport and to ensure public safety, said Michael Reisman, the airport's deputy director for development and operations. Sale of the property is scheduled to close by July 31.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the airport a $6.5 million grant to help pay for the airfield redevelopment project, which is expected to get under way after a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 8. The biggest construction project in the airport's history, the airfield expansion is expected to take four years.

Owned by the Fitzpatrick family's Brightstar Associates Inc. and Brite Stars LLC, the acreage adjoins Ferncliff Industrial Park, the site of the new Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. plant. The land has been owned by the Westfeldt family and later generations, including the Fitzpatricks, since the late 1800s. The Westfeldts build a home on the property that the family had used as a summer retreat from the early 1900s until Fitzpatrick had it disassembled last year and stored to make way for the 160-acre Ferncliff Industrial Park. He plans to reassemble parts of it for another home.