WALNUT RIDGE (KAIT) The battle over whether the Walnut Ridge Country Club should move away from airport, had it's first day in court Monday.
The argument was presented in circuit court in front of judge Harold Erwin.
The airport claims the golf course is hazardous and needs to be moved away from runway 18/36
E early into the opening discussion Judge Erwin again asked the airports' lawyer David Cahoon, Why is this coming up now? The golf course has been there for nearly 40 years.
Cahoon answered by telling the judge of the airports request to receive a 139 certification which would allow charter aircraft and commercial passenger carriers to use the airport on a regular basis.
Some country club members are skeptical.
Dave Fowler, "I really don't for see charter air passenger travel. I think it's going to hurt the Walnut Ridge community a lot worse to lose that golf course/ country club than to leave the airport as it is right now.
The judge also questioned as to why the FAA was not involved in the proceedings.
Cahoon says they may have to be involved in the final decisions.
David Cahoon, "It involves agencies we don't control and agencies that we don't have day to day working relationships with like the FAA and other."
Judge Erwin told both sides to avoid making this a federal manner and settling it locally.
He ordered both groups out of the court room to talk and try and work out a compromise or a decision.
Terry Ryan, Club Member, "The judge has asked us to go sit down and negotiate a settlement or come to a compromise. Which has been our position since day one. "
One way the airport is compromising is allowing the airport to cut down the trees back behind on hole six. Simply because the Air National Guard will soon start flying night training missions at the airport.
The two groups deliberated for a couple of hours then asked the judge for a 30 day moratorium for further discussion.
Discussion that will no doubt prove difficult.
Cahoon, "Well I think both parties are willing to work and I think it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort to try and resolve this problem. It's a complicated problem."
Judge Erwin wants both parties back in court in 30 days to hear progress reports.