Coveted land for airport isn’t on the market

Land the city hopes to use already has three different owners.
Monday, April 30, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:11 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

The city of Columbia is seeking to buy about 60 acres south of town to follow its 20-year master plan to develop Columbia Regional Airport. There’s just one hitch: The land isn’t currently on the market.

The property would allow the city to expand the airport and extend Airport Drive farther south.

The land, actually part of the city of Ashland, has three different owners.

In 2004, a 10-acre tract that’s part of what Columbia wants was put on sale by its then-owner. Before the city was able to buy it, Jane and Zach Rippetto beat them to the punch, hoping to build a light industrial complex on the property.

A report presented to the Columbia City Council at its last meeting by John Glascock, director of public works, recommended that the city authorize pursuing the project because of fear the land’s price is going to increase dramatically. Five percent of the acquisition costs were already budgeted in Columbia’s Fiscal Year 2006 Capital Improvement Program, and the remaining 95 would be covered by a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

Jane Rippetto, who together with her husband owns Coyote Investments LLC and 3.1 acres of the land the city wants, said she is willing to negotiate with the city — but only if the city were to make a serious offer.

“We would rather have the land,” she said, “but if the money is realistic, we won’t fight the city of Columbia.”

Although the Rippettos have already been contacted by city employees over time, no one has made them a formal offer.

“I will believe it when I see it,” Jane Rippetto said.

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