Morgantown City Council passes land transfer with DOH, annulment of First Street

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council has approved an agreement transferring land from the Municipal Airport to the West Virginia Department of Highways (DOH).

The agreement involves approximately .301 acres of land located at the airport near West Run Road to be signed over to the DOH  for approximately $15,100. The transaction allows for highway construction by the DOH without having it affect operations at the airport. The land transfer was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ahead of the council’s unanimous approval.

“The property we own along West Run Road was purchased for navigational aids, which are still operating. The Department of Highways is looking to do some improvements on West Run, and they need a small portion of our land,” said Morgantown Municipal Airport Executive Director Jonathan Vrabel during council’s meeting Tuesday.

The DOH will receive land that is a short distance from West Run Road and is part of the roadway to the airport’s approach towers. The land would be transferred via a quick claim deed that will cease and terminate upon the completion of the West Run Road widening project. The construction easement line adjusted as part of the transfer can only be limited to highway construction.

“The portion of the land they need, we’re not using; it’s right along the roadway,” said Vrabel of the land being transferred. “We can’t even access our land from the road using that piece they’re going to take, so it doesn’t affect us in any way, shape, or form,” he said.

Council has also greenlighted an ordinance that annuls a portion of First Street. The ordinance will remove the area of First Street between Beechurst Avenue and Hall Street as a public street and will allow for an easement of construction with West Virginia University that can then be granted over to the DOH. The easement will allow for construction to take place on Beechurst Avenue while allowing the City of Morgantown to realign First Street down around Campus Drive as a separate project.

“WVU has agreed to dedicate right-of-way in the area where the city would like First Street to be located, and it would line up with the new Campus Drive,” said Morgantown City Attorney Ryan Simonton on the agreement. “The effect of annulling the roadway in the existing location would be to return it to the adjoining owner, and that owner here is WVU,” said Simonton.

The aim of the ordinance is to continue Sunnyside’s development with the help of WVU and the DOH. As part of the agreement, the DOH and the City of Morgantown plan to meet after their respective projects to determine the next course of action for the heavily traveled student area. City Engineer Damien Davis stated to council that designs for the realignment are expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks, with bid estimates projected at around $1 million. The DOH is expected to offer some assistance with the project.

“The DOH is supporting the project in the fact that we worked with them on the design to make sure that what their work did didn’t impact what we wanted to do,” said Davis. “So once they’re done, and when we’re done, we’ll coordinate together; we’ll tie together,” he said.

Bidding on the city project is expected to begin within the next month. The DOH project on Beechurst Avenues is expected to begin in the next couple of months.