When it came time last year to sell the family home on Ballinger Road, it was a big decision for Rose and David Cummings.

The couple had run a175-acre dairy farm not far from the home where they had raised their two daughters. Their three grandchildren had such fond memories of times spent at their grandparents' home that one granddaughter cried at the thought of the home being sold.

After receiving an offer from the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, the family decided to sell the home and 30-acre property. The airport needs the land as wetlands for the overnight FedEx cargo hub under construction at the airport.

But while the Cummings sold the house last year, they haven't had to leave the homestead yet. The airport agreed to let the Cummings remain in their home until they are ready to leave.

"As long as we want it," said David Cummings, 84.

The couple, however, is paying rent for the first time, and their landlord is the airport.

"It feels unusually different to be paying the airport a check every month," said Rose Cummings.

And the Cummings aren't the only ones with PTI as their landlord as the airport continues to buy property for expansion projects. The airport is renting 36 houses, with another 11 for rent or being prepped for renters, said Ted Johnson, the airport's executive director.

The airport rents the homes it buys if they are in good condition. If needed repairs don't make renting cost-effective, the airport will tear the homes down.

"We do try to get a little income off these houses," said Johnson. Last year, the airport grossed $350,000 after expenses.

Once renters are inside, the airport will do major repairs. If the repair is under $150, the renter is responsible. Most of the homes are being rented short-term; the airport must give renters 30-day notice if it wants them out.

"We try to do a little more time than that," said Johnson.

Most people who accept buyouts get to stay free for six months. But there are some cases like the Cummings where the previous owners stay on after they've sold their home to the airport, said Johnson. Those cases are ideal, because the former owners still care for the house as if it's their own, he said.

The Cummings had previously sold land to the airport authority and felt they'd get a fair shake - and a fair landlord - when selling their home.

"They are nice people to work with," said Rose Cummings.

The couple knows that eventually they'll have to leave their treasured home, possibly for a retirement home. After that, the home may be torn down. The change is "just something you have to accept," said David Cummings.

"It's a different feeling," he said. "But we felt like it was the best thing we could do."

\ Contact Amy Dominello at 883-4422, Ext. 248, or adominello@news-record.com

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