ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council has approved a lease for a developer who plans to build corporate hangars at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
The council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve the 30-year lease with Ariel Homes. The lease for nearly 3 acres starts at roughly $21,000 a year.
Council president Jodi Wilkeson noted that the hangars are "a good way to get the property built up without having to invest a lot" of the city's money.
The plans call for:
• 14 box hangars, which would total 44,900 square feet.
• Nine 60 by 60 hangars.
• Five 50 by 50 hangars.
The hangars would be available for public purchase, but the city would still own the land underneath.
The council's approval came after long planning between Ariel Quintela of Ariel Homes, attorney Clarke Hobby and the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport Authority.
Airport manager Trina Sweet, who worked with the investors to develop a deal, presented the final contract to city officials last week.
Council members inquired into the financial aspects of the lease and the long-term implications of the spaces.
Wilkeson noted that the 30-year lease includes six potential 5-year renewals, creating a substantial obligation for the city. She said she was "not entirely comfortable with the 60-year period."
The lease rate will be tied to the Consumer Price Index, causing concern for Mayor W. Cliff McDuffie, who worried that a change in the CPI could hurt the city's profits on the lease when renewals are available. City Attorney Joseph Poblick assured him that the rent could only increase under the contract, not backslide.
The starting rent is 8 cents per square foot. Hobby noted that the investors will be paying more than twice as much as the council originally agreed to.
Council member Kenneth Compton said the investors are responsible for keeping the hangars in a "reasonable, improved state."