Airport to Lease Land for Agricultural Use
By Joe Bachman
Alexander Field will be leasing airport land to Hillcrest Family Farms for agriculture use.
The agreement was approved at Wednesday’s airport commission meeting — an agreement that would be for a period of ten cropping years. The agreement will let Hillcrest Family Farms cultivate 120 acres of airport land for the production of soybeans, wheat, rye, barley and oats.
The lease just won’t benefit Hillcrest, but the airport will see multiple benefits, according to Mayor Zach Vruwink.
“The primary benefit to the airport will be the reduction of grass mowing throughout summer months translating in cost reduction and staff time savings,” said Vrwink. “Secondly, we will receive revenues, with a base rent for the entire term and profit sharing for the second half.”
The base rent will cost Hillcrest farms $3,000, annually, with a slight increase in rent starting at year six. The 10-year contract is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2026.
As a part of the agreement, Hillcrest will keep the land free of noxious weed and grasses, will not create or contribute to standing water, and is responsible for all garbage removal. Any construction or additional use of the land must be approved by the city, prior. Hunting rights of the property are reserved by the city.
The Airport Commission can also terminate the lease at any time.
“Since this is the first time crops will be grown on Airport property, we wanted to ensure protections were included should we experience less than desired results,” said Vruwink. “Therefore, the contract does provide flexibility for us terminate with notice.”
Hillcrest Family Farms is a Pittsville based 1,800 acre farm that grows soybeans and wheat, as well as an animal dairy where they store and dry grain.