Lawrenceville against airport expansion

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Lawrenceville City Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday strongly opposing Gwinnett County's plans to privatize and expand Briscoe Field to allow commercial passenger flights.

"Simply said, the expansion of the airport to accommodate commercial passenger service will adversely impact the environment and quality of life for residents of the city of Lawrenceville," the resolution stated.

Mayor Rex Millsaps announced that copies of the resolution would be sent to the cities of Dacula, Grayson and Snellville, the Gwinnett County Commission, the Gwinnett County Airport Authority, the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and U.S. Rep. John Linder.

"Our position as a council is that we don't want expansion of the airport," said Millsaps, who urged residents to express their opposition to the appropriate officials. "It's up to us and you."

"I certainly don't want 737s coming over my house 24 hours a day," Millsaps added.

A significant portion of Briscoe Field, currently operated as a general aviation airport, lies within the city of Lawrenceville, and the remainder is adjacent to the city limits.

Councilman Mike Crow said it has been difficult to obtain information about the privatization and expansion of Briscoe Field from Gwinnett County other than "it may take years." Property values will decline simply because the county has initiated it, he said.

"Briscoe Field is a viable airport as it sits there today," Crow said. "It could be run more efficiently. Why would we want to give it up and damage the whole central part of the county?"

Gwinnett officials recently issued a request for qualifications that invites private companies to submit information about their interest in taking over operation of the county airport as part of a federal pilot program.

New York-based Propeller Investments already has approached the county with a proposal to operate and expand the airport. The FAA, which has approved Gwinnett County's preliminary application, requires the county to open the opportunity to other firms.

Propeller Investments reportedly has proposed to install a 10-gate terminal at Briscoe Field, extend the runway and initiate daily commercial flights.

About 200 residents concerned about aircraft noise and traffic congestion attended a recent rally opposing the airport expansion. Public opposition in 1991 and 1994 thwarted plans to expand Briscoe Field.

Proponents claim the airport expansion would boost the local economy, create jobs and provide residents with the convenience of flying in and out of Lawrenceville instead of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.