Permanent pause planned for regional airport near Oskaloosa

After 14 years of legal wrangling, plans for a $30 million regional airport between Pella and Oskaloosa are officially on hold.

In 2012, elected officials from Pella, Oskaloosa and Mahaska County signed an agreement creating the South Central Regional Airport Agency to build and operate an airport in rural Mahaska County. Landowners on the site objected to the use of eminent domain to seize “prime agricultural land” for the project and sued. Mahaska County supervisors who took office in 2017 tried to get the county out of the agreement. The two cities then sued Mahaska County to try to enforce the agreement.

In June 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the deal was unconstitutional. Last Wednesday, the Regional Airports Agency board informed the cities that they could not acquire the remaining properties needed for the airport, but would continue to own and lease the land purchased for the project.

In 2004, Orange City, Sioux Center and Sioux County reached a similar agreement for a regional airport, but it did not attract the same opposition as the Mahaska County project. The Sioux County Regional Airport is located off U.S. Highway 75 in southern Sioux County and opened in November 2018.

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