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Airport board questions consultant

LAWRENCEVILLE -- "I guess there are no simple answers," Lou Wolinetz, a consultant for an airport privatization process, told a citizens committee Tuesday.

Tasked with studying four possibilities for Gwinnett's Briscoe Field, committee members questioned Wolinetz for nearly an hour, tackling issues on a federal privatization process, risks and rewards.

Other than to procedural questions, many of the answers, Wolinetz said, would be determined by the market, companies interested in taking over the airport and officials' vision for the airport's future.

Tip Cape, the chairman of the citizens advisory board, said the most important thing he took from the conversation is a need for economic analysis of the possibilities, which could include commercial passenger service, and a study on the potential impacts.

"That was a very helpful discussion," he said after the teleconference, although he delayed much of the board's discourse on Wolinetz's answers to a meeting in two weeks.

For Tony Powell, a Lawrenceville city councilman who has openly battled against the commercialization proposal, the teleconference answered his biggest concern: the county will lose some control over the airport if commercial flights begin.

While one company has proposed a 10-gate commercial operation, Powell pointed out that once the Federal Aviation Administration issues a permit, the county cannot limit flights from arriving at the airport.

Wolinetz said that, while the county could not turn away any airline interested in opening up a commercial hub, the operations could be limited by the facilities. For example, a limited number of gates would limit the number of flights.

He also said that the county could ask for a voluntary curfew or make the case to the FAA to restrict hours.

"Once you get the permit, it's the carriers that control the airport," Powell said. "It really means that the public loses control."

About two dozen local residents turned out as an audience to Tuesday's proceedings. While some are in favor of commercial flights as an economic boon, many are concerned that an airport expansion could bring noise and reduce property values.

"We are fighting for the quality of our lives," resident Beverly Lougher said, addressing the group. "On the balance of scales (with) business and money, please taken into consideration the citizens of this area."

In addition to allowing comment at its meetings, the next of which is scheduled for Dec. 6, the advisory board is accepting public comments at the site www.gwinnettbriscoefield.com.

Comments

Cleanupguy 2 years, 4 months ago

According to a detailed FAA study, this is all around an exceptionally terrible idea. Spending further time and taxpayer money on this is ridiculous at best. It appears that the plan is to study the issue until someone actually recommends it and our wallets are opened to pay for it. I’d sure love to see the hidden agendas driving this mess, to shed some light on whose palms stand to be greased here. Here’s the key from the FAA study: In order to finance the initial capital development, the study found each site would need to be supported through taxation or other revenues. Buckle up!

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dan 2 years, 4 months ago

Did you even read the FAA study? It covered absolutely nothing about Briscoe being a small commercial passenger airport. Educate yourself before you try to educate others.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 4 months ago

Yup, got me a copy. And the headline read "The just released Atlanta Metropolitan Aviation Capacity Study Phase II began with a list of 29 sites that were screened as potential locations for an origin and destination airport to supplement the service provided at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport." Got greasy palms?

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SuxBeanU 2 years, 4 months ago

"Powell pointed out that once the Federal Aviation Administration issues a permit, the county cannot limit flights from arriving at the airport."

This is a very important point that was made. As we found out with the HOT lanes, once you receive Federal funding or Federal authorization, you effectively lose local control over a project. It's bad enough that we have local people, that don't care about the affects of commercialization on the surrounding homeowners, but to leave all future decisions to some faceless bureaucrats, in some faraway place to decide on your fate is quite disconcerting. As far as I'm concerned, having Federal involvement in this project is a non-starter for me.

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