Airport land

The Mojave Air and Space Port approved proceeding with eminent domain procedures should negotiations to purchase vacant property adjacent the airport fail. The land is needed to expand the safety zone around the rocket testing sites, such as this one used by Virgin Orbit to test fire its LauncherOne rocket motor early last year.

MOJAVE — The Mojave Air and Space Port Board of Directors unanimously agreed to move ahead with eminent domain procedures for acquiring vacant land to the northeast of the airport, should negotiations to purchase the land with its owners fail.

Airport officials have sought to acquire the land to expand the safety zone around the rocket testing sites on the airport’s north side to meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

The expansion is necessary as the test stands themselves are larger than they once were, General Manager Karina Drees said.

There are four properties in question, and airport officials have been trying unsuccessfully so far to negotiate with two of the owners, District Counsel Scott Nave said Tuesday.

The Board unanimously passed a resolution stating the necessity to purchase the land for the publicly owned airport.

The condemnation proceedings for eminent domain will not begin unless negotiations with the owners fail, Nave said.

For one property, officials have found it very difficult to locate the owner in order to even open negotiations, Nave said.

The owner, Compton Family Trust, did not receive notice of Tuesday’s hearing and so the action regarding that specific property was tabled until a later date.

The second property owner, listed as Professional Equities, was subject to Tuesday’s decision.

“We have been in discussions with them,” Nave said.

For the other two properties, the airport has reached an agreement to terms for purchasing them with the owners and is in the process of finalizing those sales, Nave said.

The Board also determined that an environmental report is not required, as there will be no physical changes to the vacant land.

“It’s simply a safety zone,” Nave said.

In addition, the project is categorically exempt under state environmental review laws, he said.

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