OWLS HEAD — A proposal by Knox County to allow 23 hangars to be constructed at the airport remains in limbo, with county officials openly talking about the possibility of going to court to get the project approved.

The county appeared before the Owls Head Planning Board on Monday evening, Jan. 10 to get approval for eight hangars. The Board found the application complete, but postponed action on the proposal until its Feb. 1 meeting. Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw said a second phase will call for having 15 additional hangars built.

Shaw said the hangars would be built by private individuals and taxed by the town. A conservative estimate would be a private investment of more than $5 million, once completed. Each hangar would be individually owned, and would provide revenue for the County and the Town, he said.

The airport manager said the application was tabled after the Planning Board insisted a condition of the permit be no jets could ever be stored in the new hangars, an action not within the jurisdiction of the Planning Board, and also illegal economic discrimination. He said this was another delay tactic being used by the Planning Board to further delay the project that made its first appearance before the Board in 2020, more than 18 months ago.

Knox County Commissioners discussed the matter during its Tuesday, Jan. 11 meeting.

Knox County Administrator Andrew Hart said he plans to attend the Owls Head Selectboard’s Tuesday, Jan. 18 meeting to discuss the shoreland zoning map that is being used to block the airport project.

Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw said the town singled out Knox County with the shoreland map to prevent the airport from expanding.

“It’s a completely fabricated issue,” Shaw said.

The airport manager said the town has already approved the taxiway lane for the hangars, and the area where the hangars would be built has already been developed. He said the project would not affect any wetlands.

“This is just more obstruction,” he said.

Administrator Hart said the final option would be to sue the town, but stressed it should be the last option. The shoreland map was approved at a town meeting and to change that would require another vote at a town meeting.

County Commission Chair Dorothy Meriwether suggested the county consider going to court to let a judge rule on the matter.

“We’re at an impasse,” Meriwether said.

Shaw said failure to get the hangars approved could jeopardize future federal funding. He noted the county used federal money for the taxiway expansion and that was done with the expectation the hangars would be constructed.