PI cancels airport leases

ONAWAY — Letters of termination will be sent to the majority of individuals who are leasing hangars at the Onaway Airport.

The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners authorized Legal Counsel Joe Kwiatkowski to send letters terminating leases to all but one of the leaseholders during the board’s last meeting of 2018. That particular leaseholder is in compliance with his lease, which is set to expire in 2020.

Kwiatkowski told commissioners the majority of the leases are nearly 20 years old and that the leaseholders are no longer in compliance with their lease agreements. The original lease agreements specified the hangars would be used for airplanes and for storing airplanes, according to Kwiatkowski, but many are being used to store personal property such as cars, boats and snowmobiles.

Many of the leaseholders are also in breach of their agreements for selling their leases without the board’s permission, so there are people using the hangars who have no legal right to do so, he said.

Kwiatkowski has spent the last six months working on the project. After surveying all the leases, he believes they are terminated by “operation of law.” He said 20 years have passed since the leases were signed and there are no provisions on how the leases will renew or terminate. He also expressed his concerns that the leases were poorly written, calling them “some of the worst I’ve ever seen.”

“My opinion and my recommendation to this board is that you terminate the leases and then decide whether you’re going to let it out again — meaning have a new lease,” he said.

Kwiatkowski said the board could decide to allow those leasing the hangars to enter into a new lease in the future. He said he would like to write a better lease for the commissioners — one that would reduce any risk of liability for the board.

Additionally, he would like the county to increase the cost per square foot, as the county is currently leasing the property “for a song.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at cnelson@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5687.