LAWRENCEVILLE -- With a citizens report due in two weeks, people flooded the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center on Tuesday to talk to commissioners about the proposed commercial flights at Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville.
The majority of the crowd was against the idea, citing issues such as noise and property values. Many questioned the commissioners trustworthiness. One political candidate showed ties to proposer Propeller Investments and a bankrupt airline. A young boy made a plea to keep his asthma from getting worse. And one woman broke into tears when talking about the death of a niece in a mid-air collision and a woman who died in a crash near her Lawrenceville home.
"This is personal. It's not about economics, convenience or politics. It's about our lives being ruined," said area homeowner Rex Walker, who said his neighborhood association had a lawyer on retainer. "We will fight with every resource available to us."
Several business owners and residents said the promise of jobs and economic prosperity made the venture worth a look.
"If we're going to be able to recruit top-notch companies, we need to have a much better air facility," Dacula man Bill Blackwell said.
Peggy Rose of Dacula told the board, "I hear it's business versus community and citizens. This is a community of citizens. ... "We voted for you to represent us, not big business."
Debbie Dooley, a Dacula resident who is a leader with the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, said she had not made a decision on whether to support the project. But she said the most important move for commissioners is to allow the public to view the proposal, which is not subject to open records laws.
The county's purchasing ordinance has not allowed Propeller officials to discuss their proposal, although information released in the past called for a 10-gate facility.
"In order for me to make an informed decision I'd like to see the proposal," Dooley said. "Let's have a vote on it."
A citizens task force studying issues at the airport, including the privatization proposal, is in the final stages of its evaluation. A report is due May 8.