Trees to be cleared and some residents say they were misled

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Some Wilmington residents are unhappy about airport officials cutting down trees near ILM.

They say the trees need to go in order for Wilmington International Airport to build a new instrument landing system.

"There are some trees that are obstructions to surfaces that need to be cleared at the end of runway 24, said Julie Wilsey.

Several months ago, airport officials offered cash to all nearby residents in exchange for an easement to cut down the trees.  Some residents say they didn't know the trees would go, otherwise they wouldn't have signed.

Homeowner Charlie Joyce said he felt misled, but signed a contract in August 2008, accepting a $45,000 cash trade agreement.  The contract states vegetation would be cut down from his property.

Joyce's attorney, Michael Davenport, said his client thought his house would have been taken away if he didn't agree with the airport's demands.

"This was not an arms length transaction with two willing parties," said Davenport.  "This was one party, a strong arm of the government, and one party that was an 87-year-old man who thought that he was giving something to them that they would take away."

Airport officials say they were clear when talking to every neighbor, including Joyce.

"We don't want to force anything or threaten anybody, and we did the best we could," said Wilsey.

A court agreed with airport officials and cleared the way for crews to start cutting down trees.

©2009 WECT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.