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BOC OKs preapplying to privatize airport

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett officials will move forward with a pre-application to consider privatizing the county airport.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to give Chairman Charles Bannister to sign forms to submit to the Federal Aviation Administration, likely next week.

"I'm of a belief that if it's going to create tens of thousands of jobs and not deteriorate the community, it's something we need to look at," said Commissioner Kevin Kenerly, who represents the area. "We still need to research how it's going to impact the community."

If the FAA gives Gwinnett one of two slots for a federal program, which would allow privatization without having to pay back federal grants, the county will seek private solicitations and study options. Officials have said public comments will be a key part of the process.

Last year, Propeller Investments approached the county about the Gwinnett County Airport at Briscoe Field, proposing to buy or lease the general aviation airport to open it up for commercial flights.

"I'm waiting to hear what the study unveils but I think with everybody exercising their voices to privatize most government services, it would certainly be something to look into," Commissioner Shirley Lasseter said. "We're going to have to look into light and noise control if it looks like a possibility."