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Rockford airport addresses Natural Land Institute lawsuit, airport expansion

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Bell Bowl Prairie pic.png

ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Chicago Rockford International Airport has addressed a lawsuit filed by the Natural Land Institute. 

Greater Rockford Airport Authority Chairman Paul R. Cicero today issued a letter clarifying RFD’s relationship to the NLI. The letter to NLI reads:

I am writing on behalf of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority (the “Authority”). It has come to our attention through a federal lawsuit filed by you, that the Natural Land Institute believes that it has some form of contract or agreement with the Authority as it relates to certain property owned by the Authority. The Authority is not aware of any written agreement between Natural Land Institute and the Authority. However, if any such agreement does exist, notice is hereby given that any such contract or agreement is terminated effective immediately.

The NLI has filed lawsuits in regards to the Rockford airport's million $50 million cargo expansion.

The expansion was supposed to include a detention basin that was originally planned in the Bell Bowl Prairie.

The airport announced late last month they in the process of redesigning a portion of its expansion project which will remove a detention basin that was originally planned in the Bell Bowl Prairie.

READ MORE: Rockford airport updating expansion project to avoid Bell Bowl Prairie 

The airport is still working with the FAA, IDNR and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to further evaluate the environmental impact, if any, from the project.

As a result of ongoing consultation with the FAA, USFWS and the IDNR, further construction of the long-planned and approved roadway is paused until this consultation is completed. Until this consultation is completed, RFD will limit access to the land being evaluated to ensure preservation and safety on airport property.

“It’s important that we preserve the integrity of our own property, especially as we work with our governmental partners to complete all environmental consultation,” said Zack Oakley, the Deputy Director of Operations and Planning at RFD. “We are entering the busiest season for cargo operations at the Airport. For the safety of all, we’re restricting any outside access to Airport property.”

This $50 million dollar cargo expansion is estimated to create hundreds of construction jobs, generate up to 600 permanent new jobs at the airport, and facilitate continued growth of the region’s strength in worldwide international cargo operations.

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