Gwinnett County accepts airport land from state

LAWRENCEVILLE -- At a time when proposed scheduled passenger service to Briscoe Field has Lawrenceville residents up in arms, this airport expansion was a much easier debate.

In fact, a proposal to accept three small parcels of land from the Georgia Department of Transportation passed Tuesday with little fanfare on commissioners' consent agenda.

"I had thought about tabling it, not engaging in any airport issues until after this was done," Commissioner John Heard said. "But it's an acre and a half of land that has value to it. I didn't want to miss that opportunity."

After three years of debate, proposals about privatizing the small general aviation airport are due next month. At least one company, Propeller Investments, has publicly discussed plans to bring commercial passenger service there.

Gwinnett Transportation Acting Director Kim Conroy said the parcels on Tuesday's agenda had nothing to do with the privatization debate.

He said the state agency has held onto three parcels near Ga. Highway 316 and Airport Road for decades. Currently sealed away in a fence off the highway, the land has dated back to when Ga. 316 was built. Officials may have considered an interchange there, as the highway's western section is, he said.

"It basically was a deed clean-up," Conroy said, adding that the state will give the land to Gwinnett at no cost to the county. "There was no reason to have parcels owned by Ga. DOT into the airport. ... Probably years ago it should have been cleaned up."

Heard, who represents the area, has been openly against commercialization of Briscoe Field.

He delayed the surplus and sale of county-owned property by the airport recently, but he said he was not concerned about the state parcels.

"All that property we've been procrastinating on, we'll clear it up," he said.