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Airport committee calls for studies and to dissolve

LAWRENCEVILLE — Members of Gwinnett’s airport privatization study committee said they can’t go forward without studies on the environmental and economic impact of expansion.

So they finished their work quickly, calling for the studies and voting to dissolve just two months after their work began.

The split vote caused jeers from members of the public hoping for a voice before commissioners in the 2-year-long debate on allowing passenger service at Briscoe Field.

While Terry Britt, a Gwinnett native and former chair of the Airport Authority, made the motion to present a final report to the commission and dissolve the committee, he said he would be “honored” to reconvene once environmental and economic reports are complete.

“We don’t have any other choice; this is all we have to offer,” Britt said, adding that the dissolution language simply echoed the resolution creating the recommending body. “I think this is as much as we can provide with the resources we’ve been given.”

All committee members agreed that environmental — which will determine noise impact as well as pollution issues — and economic studies should be done. In fact, a consultant already gave that recommendation to commissioners.

But Britt said the county needed the clear direction that the studies should be performed before a contract is signed, since proposals to privatize the airport are due in February.

The request for proposals, issued earlier this month, interfered in committee members’ attempts to contact previously interested parties to discuss potential upgrades to the airport, members said.

“We’ve come to a crossroads,” Nickie Summers said. “I don’t see it as slamming the door. I see it as standing up for a serious issue.”

But other committee members — four of whom voted against the proposals — and residents in attendance Tuesday said the dissolution hampered the ability of the community to speak out.

“(Commissioners) will find all kinds of reasons not to do what you and ... and now they have nobody here to hold their feet to the fire,” said Larry Yates. “You’ve let the citizens of this county down.”

Wayne Huff, who is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said he did not want government money spent on more studies investigating commercialization.

“They are spending money to try to get rid of my airport,” he said. “This is just a disgrace.”

Tip Cape, a developer who has chaired the study group, said he has been “miffed” since meetings began in October, since the county did not allocate money for studies to the committee.

“I personally think the citizens of Gwinnett County will be benefitted by what we have done,” Cape said. “I thought it was very important to get something to the county before ... they got grandiose ideas (in the form of proposals). At least they will have professional information provided.”

Members pointed out that the board cannot dissolve itself, but as Britt’s proposed resolution is worded, it would become official if commissioners approve the resolution.

The recommendations outlined in the three-page report also include:

• Urging commissioners to pursue customs services at the airport regardless of privatization. The ability to approve items coming into America at the airport, officials said, would entice businesses to locate aircraft at Briscoe;

• Not pursuing privatization if the airport remains a general aviation operation. Members said the county staff has operated the airport efficiently and adding a private partner “would be cost prohibitive;”

• Environmental and economic impacts of commercial service should be completed and considered prior to the award of any contract with a private partner;

• If the county accepts a private partner, that company should have the responsibility of any upgrades to the facility, so no government money would be spent on it.

Comments

Cleanupguy 2 years, 4 months ago

At the outset this sounded just like the “Engage Gwinnett” (an elite special interest citizen group, carefully hand picked by the Bannister Bunch) panel. As I recall, the dissent section of their final report was significantly larger and with much better ideas than the conclusions section. I cannot believe that this airport input deal was ever intended to be anything but a “hey, we got citizen input” sham, and now it will be full steam ahead, business as usual, whatever we wanted to do in the first place for the BOC.

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BevL 2 years, 4 months ago

This article makes the actions taken by the Citizens Review Committee last night seem so reasonable. Actually the meeting was not reasonable at all. Terry Britt with his resolution to the BOC for the disolution of the committee will take away the one avenue the citizens of Gwinnett have for input into the BOC's decision on the airport. Mr. Britt who is obviously a proponent for commercialization of Briscoe Field blindsided the committee with his proposal. A hurried vote of 5 to 4 and the deal was done. Residents in attendance were stunned by this move. An interesting fact had been presented just previous to this action. A graph was distributed to the members that we were told, showed that in a 10 mile radius from the center of Briscoe Field live almost 500,000 citizens. Maybe one of these days these citizens will finally have enough of this government by the few for the few who have no regard for them. Only in Gwinnett County.

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mikekorom 2 years, 4 months ago

What I saw yesterday at this meeting was only believable in Gwinnett County. Here's what happened.

Eight panel members voted on a resolution to recommend to the BOC that the panel be dissolved because the BOC had already went forward with the RFP(Request For Proposals). Four members voted against is four for for it. Two were not present. The tie break went to the chairman. He voted for it. Here are the problems with what went down.

  1. This was a three page proposal that four of the panel members had obviously discussed and prepared prior to the meeting. They had overheads prepared. All of the 'where as' and 'therefores' were included. A proposal like this, when presented, would normally be given time for panel members that hadn't seen it time to evaulate its merits.

  2. A vote was forced on the panel immediately.

  3. The panel member that made the proposal owns an aviation insurance agency.

  4. Other panel members have real estate concerns. T Hangars, property, etc.

This was Gwinnett County politics on display. Connect the dots.

It's very odd that a panel member would want to thow in the towel at halftime. These are people that were appointed by the BOC as a citizens review committee created to give guidance to the BOC. The committee's frustration with the BOC is understandable in light of them moving forward with the RFP before the panel had made it's recommendations. However, it was an opportunistic manuever to recommend dissolvement that was, by reasonable deduction, contrived.

Throwing in the towell suggests one of two things.

  1. No heart
  2. Expediency to get their desired result. Inaction. This clears the road for the expansion/commercializtion.

For the record, my name is Mike Korom. I have recently announced my candidacy for the District 3 commission seat held by the old guard, Mike Beaudreau. I am a political outsider, having never held public office, running on the Republican ticket. I have been the President of the Apalachee Farms HOA for the last three years. I have NO hidden agenda.

mikekorom@bellsouth.net

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 4 months ago

The county commissioners had their mind made up on what they were going to do the minute this whole debacle was presented to the public. Do not think for a minute they will be swayed by your opinion or the opinion of a committee. It is likely they will not even listen to the FAA. They will push forward with this privatization whether you like it or not.

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taw 2 years, 4 months ago

The only recourse that citizens who are opposed to the expansion of the airport have at the their hands is the power of the vote. Make sure that the candidate you support opposes this. Also make your voice heard with the Commisioners who are trying to steamroll this through. The Commissioners in favor of this have sunk to new lows and we must vote them out. Email them to demand that the CRC remain active in this process.

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R 2 years, 4 months ago

This appears to be yet another example of disregarding the advice we paid IMG for. They advised a united majority position to show solidarity and by any account a 4/4 split vote with the chairman as a Ramrod tie breaker, who in the past clearly told all who cared to hear he was for COMMERCIALIZATION, doesn’t meet that standard.

This wasn’t the first time for a split/ramrod outcome and makes me wonder if the chair even bothered reading IMG’s recommendations.

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jack 2 years, 4 months ago

Let's just go ahead with privatization/expansion and not worry about the economic/environmental impact until later. This is the blueprint that has served the county so well in previous endeavors.

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jammer 2 years, 4 months ago

Our elected officials have lost touch with the people of the county they are suppose to represent. All they are looking for is a way to pad their pockets as did our previous committee chairman who I read in the paper filed for Chapter 11. How fitting he lost his Gwinnett county cash cow. IE his land he sold to the county. It is to bad he may lose his 15,000 sq ft house. The citizens of the county should petition to remove these low lifes from the office they think is their own. WE REALLY NEED TO BACK MIKE KOROM who is against this very bad idea. We need to take this county back for all the people who would like to remain in the county for years to come.

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BevL 2 years, 4 months ago

The person who is filing bankruptcy and who had a 15,000 sq ft house was not the chairman. He was the District 4 Commissioner. Not saying the Chairman did not have problems because he did but to the best of my knowledge he has not filed for Chapter 11. Mike Korom is not in my district and I did not particularly like him campaigning at the meeting last night. I'm just saying.

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CD 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't know whom I should be more dissappointed with: those that voted for the gluttonous heathens or the gluttonous heathens. The issue with the latter is that a gluttonous heathen is what it is and it simply cannot be anything else. More, more, more, more, and there is never enough. Never. Asking a gluttonous heathen to respect the will of the people is like a child asking a pet rock to be something other than a pet rock.

I'm going to believe that the former can learn from their mistakes eventually. For now.

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bestForGwinnett 2 years, 4 months ago

Another example of Gwinnett's do it now - pay for it later mentality which has been the status quo for too long. The County's growth surges have been at the expense of economic and environmental well being in large part due to poor or hasty planning. The commercialization of Briscoe Field is a disaster waiting to happen. I personally will support the candidate that does NOT support this!

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