Clayton nears closing on Tara Field sale

Bell says transaction completion expected next week

Clayton County officials are in the final stages of selling Tara Field airport in Hampton, to their counterparts in Henry County, according to the head of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners.

The county commission unanimously approved closing documents for the sale, Tuesday, paving the way for the transfer of 542.29 acres of land, including the airport, and adjacent Clayton County Water Authority property.

Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said there are just a few more details that have to be addressed before the transaction can be closed on, but he added that the sale is very close to being finished.

“It’ll be done in the next week,” Bell said on Wednesday. “There are some engineering issues that need to be finalized, which they [engineers] are doing now. They have to draw up the exact plats that would describe how much land is on each acre, and how the [Clayton County] Water Authority’s land is laid out.”

Clayton County is set to receive $17.7 million for the land. Henry County will pay a small portion of that price, but Henry officials have said the Federal Aviation Administration is also expected to pay the bulk ($15 million total) of the purchase price.

The purchasing agreement shows the land the airport sits on is being bought for $1.29 million, while the price for the Clayton County Water Authority land is $15.3 million. Clayton County will get $420,000 for a hangar on the airport property, and $658,403 in interest from Henry County, as part of the purchase price, according to the agreement.

The sale of the airport will resolve a situation in which Clayton County owned the airport, but, because it is located in Henry County, that county controls zoning for the surrounding property. Henry County has long eyed ownership of the airport, with a desire to improve it. Earlier this year, Bell estimated that it would cost Clayton County between $25 million and $50 million to expand and upgrade the airport.

Word that a sale of the airport was imminent first came to light in February, but the sale was not formally approved until last month, when the two boards of commissioners voted to approve the terms of the transaction. Clayton County has owned Tara Field, which has a 4,500-foot-long runway, since 1994.

Bell said the Henry County Board of Commissioners has already approved the closing documents for the Tara Field sale, which means all that is left to do on the transaction is tidying up loose ends.

“Now, it is up to us [Clayton County] to ensure all of the details are sorted out, and once that happens, we will be able to complete the closing,” he said.

Henry County Board of Commissioners Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis could not be reached for comment, Wednesday.