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Lawrenceville eyes regulations to airport

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Lawrenceville City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed the first readings of zoning ordinance changes that would require the airport operator and other aviation businesses at Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field to obtain special-use permits to operate in the city limits.

This requirement and others being considered by the Lawrenceville council could complicate Gwinnett County’s efforts to privatize and expand Briscoe Field to allow commercial passenger flights.

The county recently accepted qualifications from three companies interested in taking over Briscoe Field, which is currently operated as a general aviation airport.

The council adopted a resolution last month opposing the airport plans as detrimental to the environment and quality of life for Lawrenceville residents.

About a third of Briscoe Field, including about half of its 6,000-foot runway, is located in the city.

“We had a big gaping hole in our ordinance that we needed to take care of,” Councilman Mike Crow said. “This has nothing to do with the county. We should have looked at it and addressed it anyway. It needs to be passed because of the way Lawrenceville sits today without regulations.”

The first reading of a transportation overlay district also was approved by the council.

The proposed overlay includes the city’s portion of the airport, which is zoned light manufacturing, and adjacent property, zoned heavy manufacturing, where airport parking, shuttle services and other facilities might locate.

Special-use permits would be required for airports, airlines, airport terminals, air traffic control, aircraft maintenance, service or storage facilities, airport hangars, airport retail businesses, airport food service businesses, ground transportation of passengers, baggage or cargo, and other aviation businesses located in the LM and HM zoning districts in the overlay.

Existing structures would be grandfathered, but any new facilities, expansions or renovations would need special-use permits. New users would also have to obtain permits.

Airport parking, shuttle and similar services would be allowable uses in the overlay district, but would be subject to regulations.

The council specified noise limits for aircraft flying over the city and at the airport.

In addition, the council approved the first reading of an amendment to the city’s code of ordinances requiring companies desiring to locate in Lawrenceville’s part of the airport or the adjacent city property to obtain business licenses from the city and pay a $500 fee for background checks.