Walnut Ridge Airport wins court case against country club

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) – The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed a lower courts' decision Wednesday between the City of Walnut Ridge and the Walnut Ridge Golf Club.

In the decision Chief Judge Larry Vaught said the court upheld Circuit Judge Harold Erwin's decision that the golf club was violating the airport's airspace.  The Walnut Ridge Airport, owned by the city was found in violation by the Federal Aviation Administration in October 2006.  The FAA said certain structures on the golf course were in violation of the airport's airspace.

Federal regulations require a safety space around the runways.  The golf course, which leases the property from the city, lies within that boundary.  The city told the golf club they had to remove certain obstructions.

The golf club filed an injunction saying the city was violating its lease. In the end, the city won on the basis that the deed for the property required clear airspace around the runways.  The city says the golf course violates the airport's safety boundary as set out in the original deed.

The United States Government deeded the land to the city in 1950 after the federal government used it for training pilots in World War II.  The city leased the property the golf course is on in 1972 to the Walnut Ridge Golf Club.

This decision clears the way for the airport to expand in the future.  The city hopes one day to land air passenger service at the airport.  Because of the proximity of the golf course, planes with large numbers of passengers cannot land on at least two of the three runways.

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