County terminates airport lease agreement with Morgan Aircraft, declines requested changes

by Jeff Pederson of The Review staff

Just over six years after announcing plans to design and produce a new brand of airplane-helicopter hybrid aircraft, Morgan Aircraft has lost its lease at the Sheboygan County Airport.

The Oostburg-based company unveiled its intentions to develop a unique line of cutting-edge design, high-tech concept EM-J (Extremely Maneuverable Jet) aircraft, combining the jet-powered speed and comfort of an airplane and the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of a helicopter, to much fanfare in June 2007.

The EM-J aircraft, which was patented by Morgan Aircraft in January 2005, was designed to carry two pilots and seven passengers, and cater mainly to timeconscious corporate travelers.

Along with Morgan’s initial announcement, came plans to build a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and production office at the Sheboygan County Airport in the town of Sheboygan Falls.

In an effort to assist the promising start-up project, the county invested almost $160,000 in infrastructure improvements at the airport, including roads and electrical service.

Company co-founder Brian Morgan indicated the possibility of creating thousands of jobs when the project hit full production mode at the airport as part of a multi-phase plan.

However, the project has stalled in recent years due to a lack of financial backing from potential investors.

During a Sheboygan Falls Town Board meeting on Oct. 7, Sheboygan County Supervisor Peggy Feider reported that Morgan Aircraft has petitioned the Sheboygan County Transportation Committee to be released from its 50-year lease agreement due to insufficient capital.

Feider stated that the committee had voted to accept their request as long as Morgan Aircraft adhered to the terms of the agreement regarding termination responsibilities.

Due to the mounting bill for past due rent at the airport, the County Transportation Committee voted to terminate the county’s lease agreement with Morgan Aircraft during a meeting on Monday, Oct. 28.

Morgan Aircraft had missed an Oct. 1 deadline to pay almost $30,000 in past due rent for airport space.

In September, the Transportation Committee directed county Corporation Counsel Carl Buesing to draft a termination agreement that would end the county’s collaboration with Morgan Aircraft.

Buesing informed the committee that Morgan Aircraft countered with new conditions, including asking the county not to try to recover past-due rent for 12 months.

In addition, Morgan Aircraft asked that if the county is able to lease the airport property within the next 12 months, that the company not be required to pay back the entire $157,816 the county spent on improvements.

Buesing advised the committee to go ahead with the original termination plan and not make the changes Morgan requested.

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