The Walker County Commission approved a lease change affecting Sanders Aviation, which is expanding, while pilots at the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field can all expect to see increases in tie-down rates and monthly leases.
On Monday, the commission approved a lease agreement change where a lease for Greg Albritton at the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field has been assigned to Sanders Aviation.
County attorney Eddie Jackson said the lease is being taken over for the balance of the term. However, Joey Sanders of Sanders Aviation also wants a new lease that will give him a full-term lease in time, as he will invest to add some space.
"We will have to redo his lease, and we have a sample in our packet," Jackson said. The lease was updated to show tie-down fees have since been increased from $25 to $40 at the airport, increasing the bill from $100 a month to $160 a month. "And then he is going to get new property, an additional piece of property to lease from us, which has still got to be worked out," he said.
Sanders will come back later to ask for the new full-term lease for the same rate and more property, as he understands Sanders is building another hangar.
County Engineer Mike Short said the new hangar will go off the county's existing property, with land eventually donated to the county. For fencing to go around the property, it has to be owned by the county.
"This hangar is built with the rear wall very close to our property line. For any expansion, he's going to have to go onto property we do not own, which would be off this existing lease," he said. Jackson said some tenants and planes are already lined up that need to be housed out there, which will be a good revenue stream for the county, including fuel revenue.
Short said Monday's action only involved the lease assignment and the tie-down increase. "Of course, that will affect everyone. When we implement this on him, it will affect everyone out there. Everybody's rate will go up," he said.
Jackson said the county has been charging the $40 tie-down fee, but it hasn't "passed it on to the hangar people."
He said leases provide that from time-to-time a rate of four times the tie-down lease can be applied to monthly leases.
Jackson said Sanders is doing "some amazing stuff" at the airport that many people don't realize, while Davis said the airport is quickly growing.
Short clarified the situation in a text to the Daily Mountain Eagle later that morning, in response to a text from the Eagle.
"We approved a transfer of a lease from Greg Albritton to Sanders and we recognized the changes in the tie down rate from $25 to $40, which were approved several months ago in the lease," he wrote. "This increase will now become effective for all the hangar owners at the airport as per the language in their existing leases."
District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis noted the airport is goes hand-in-hand with industrial development, including industry being put in place in the Huntsville area.