- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Owners of farmland near the preferred site for a new Williston airport are wondering about the future of their properties.

Officials expect to break ground in the spring on a $254 million airport, after receiving approval and initial funding from the Federal Aviation Administration this fall.

The city wants to acquire 1,540 acres from eight landowners, a majority of which is now farmed, either by the owners or renters, the Williston Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1MfYVco ). Officials also will be considering zoning changes that might restrict the types of crops that can be grown around the airport.

Affected landowners Blaine and Jennifer Jorgenson said they’re not sure whether to proceed with fall work on their fields. Bill Owan, another farmer in the area, said he worries about disruptions from the new airport.

“This airport doesn’t make me money,” he said. “Farming makes me money.”



Engineering consultant KLJ expects to have land appraisal staff ready later this month and said landowners will have a chance to bring questions and concerns to that staff. Written offers will be prepared once appraisals are complete, likely early next year.

Traffic at Williston’s current airport is 10 times what it was built to handle, due to the region’s oil boom. Commercial jet service is now available from Williston to Minneapolis, Denver and Houston, though the current airport’s runways are designed to serve turboprop planes. Officials have been discussing the possibility of a new airport for years.

“It has been four years of uncertainty,” Blaine Jorgenson said.

Construction of the new airport is expected to begin next June and wrap up in the fall of 2018.

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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