New legislation could help St. George leaders redevelop the land underneath the airport after the new airport opens up.

SB294 would classify inactive airport areas as blight, which would then clear the path for local leaders to declare the site a redevelopment area and use property tax funds to clean things up.

The bill was approved by the Senate Thursday morning and now moves to the House for debate.

Earlier in the legislative session, Washington County legislators pitched a proposal to House GOP leaders to sell the airport to the state. The 274-acre old airport site, located on top of a mesa overlooking downtown St. George, has been appraised at between $42 million and $46 million.

St. George already has $17.2 million in federal funds and a promise for another $90 million to build the $190 million replacement airport located about seven miles southeast of town.

But any developer would have to wait four or five years after his purchase before he could start developing the old airport site, for that airport must keep operating until the new one is ready.

"They should be able to qualify that as an RDA should they choose," said Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the bill's sponsor.