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Airport proposal released; opponents still not swayed

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Brett Smith begged commissioners to release the plan.

Frustated over years of conjecture, statistics and studies with little ties to his hopes to add air travel to Lawrenceville's Briscoe Field, Smith railed over the injustice of people fighting a phantom idea.

Within hours of Tuesday's decision to reject the proposal from Smith's Propeller Airports -- a plan he spent three years and $2 million to bring forward -- the document was released to the public.

But many said the lengthy filing did little to change their concerns about quality of life, financial viability and taxpayer risk.

"I'm shocked," said Sabrina Smith, a Suwanee woman who became a government watchdog several years ago because of a tax increase. "This is a sales presentation. This is not a business plan."

While agreeing with neighbors and friends concerned about noise, property values and other quality of life issues, Smith and her allies with Citizens for Responsible Government have been sticklers for transparency and honesty in the process, which, she said, had been tainted from the beginning.

She wanted the documents released to the public earlier, but she said Wednesday it would likely have changed few opinions. Smith agreed with county officials -- who gave the proposal a score of 51 out of 100 -- that the document lacked details needed to allay fears.

"I don't see that it would have been a financial benefit for the citizens of Gwinnett County," she said.

The proposal, which touts Gwinnett as a great place to convert the airfield to a regional 10-gate commuter hub, with destinations such as Miami, Boston and New York, asks for a 50-year lease on the airport.

Propeller proposed $110 million in investments, including lengthening, widening and strengthening the runway, building a terminal to accommodate Boeing 737s and parking facilities. But the county or state would have to help with an unspecified need for road improvements, the document said, as well as police and fire services needed to qualify for commercial flights. Also, the terms seek to have ad valorem taxes waived for have all assets owned or controlled by Propeller. (Planes and hangars based at the airport but privately owned by others would continue to pay the taxes.)

In return, the proposal said the county would receive 5 percent of revenues -- a guaranteed minimum annual payment of $500,000 a year -- after the first three years, plus an unsubstantiated increase in sales and fuel taxes. The projection of the payments for the life of the lease was a minimum of $23.5 million.

Propeller proposed a potential economic impact of up to $1.8 billion and up to 20,000 jobs.

"The ironic thing is they released it a day too late," Smith said of Tuesday's release of the proposal. "The real losers in this is not us. It's the community."

Smith said the company is "weighing its options" for suing the county, saying the process was not fair.

"I'm not sure what good that does," he said of releasing the proposal after the decision was made. "Now people will see what they've lost."

Jimmy Norton, a former airport authority chairman who was a leader in pushing for commercial flights with Fly Gwinnett Forward, said the lack of details in the proposal did not trouble him.

Instead, he agreed with Smith that because the process was designed to allow officials to negotiate with its potential private partner, the document was a starting point.

"The citizens should've had a chance to look at it and decide for itself," he said. "Reading it stand-alone doesn't really tell all the story. ... There were questions that needed to be asked after the fact."

Smith said he should have been allowed to present the plan in front of commissioners or at least meet with county staff to discuss their questions.

Jim Regan of Citizens for a Better Gwinnett, who lead a dedicated group of hundreds of Lawrenceville and area residents who protested at commission meetings for months, said getting the chance to read the document Wednesday did little to change the debate.

"To me, it really confirms," he said, talking about the risk to taxpayers if the private partner failed, and the lack of support for the economic impact figures. Specifics on potential revenues were lacking, he added, which would make the proposal tough to judge.

"It was a very light, late proposal," he said. "I don't think this would have swayed anybody. ... The average person would see they didn't have any data ... to support it."

Comments

NewsReader 2 years, 11 months ago

Brett, go home! Just go home! We are home now, and it's done, over, finished. Go home!

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momto3 2 years, 11 months ago

Wow, "NewsReader," that was completely uncalled for. Everyone has a right to his own opinion. Just because you don't agree with Brett's opinion doesn't mean you need to be so ugly towards him. The issue has been laid to rest, yet you feel the need to be a bully because your "side" won. I'm not on either "side" but I think it's sad that you chose to post a personal attack on someone just because you disagree with his ideas.

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

I don't think telling someone to go home is a personal attack...

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Amen, NewsReader!!! Remember the movie "Fatal Attraction" where Glenn Close just wouldn't die? Every time you'd think she was dead, she'd rise up again? That's what this reminds me of!

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Dubbin 2 years, 11 months ago

I am 100% sure that Smith was given all the rules and conditions for the procurement process BEFORE he responded to the request for proposal. He knew the rules, he submitted a proposal that was devoid of merit, and his proposal was turned down. Simple. The fact that Bannister, Kennerly and Lasseter weren't there to rubber stamp his fraudulent plan is what he's really upset about. So quit crying and threatening and go home Brett. And stop acting like a spoiled, petulant child.

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Brett's not a graceful loser. Guess we were supposed to say yes just because he spent $2 million. You'd think that $2 million would have gotten him a top-notch proposal. Starting with the 12 Stone Church meeting, the Fly Gwinnett Backwards folks would say, "Let's get all the facts," and then they would present zero facts. Now it turns out that the proposal was fact-free too.

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GregRodgers 2 years, 11 months ago

That is very good!!

And in the end...so very true!!

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R 2 years, 11 months ago

Less Filling but tastes GREAT!

( to some anyway)

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GregRodgers 2 years, 11 months ago

I just keep laughing..

Brett and his Fly Gwinnett Backwards people just do not get it.

Personally, I could care less about what they say could have been a "financial impact" to the community.

To me, it was always a get rich quick off of the backs of the people in the community scenario. What these fools simply fail to see...and its extremely simple....we did not want 737's flying into our quiet community. Stats and infusion of "possible" dollars did not matter.

We (D3) have a great quality of life. We moved here because of the beauty of the area, quality of schools...its a great place to raise a family. Why the heck would we want 737's flying low over our homes? And cut with the limited flights nonsense. The FAA said there was no way to limit flights..when money is involved...those were sure to increase.

Again....Brett and Fly Gwinnett into your pockets, don't be mad. Its your own fault. The writing was on the wall when the other firms decided to pull their RFP's. You guys were just to stubborn to see that for once...the people were loud enough to keep Gwinnett from being sold for a buck.

Thank you and have a nice day!

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teelee 2 years, 11 months ago

Ok Jim Regan lets hear your plan to turn Gwinnett County around. So much for the quality of life, Gwinnett is still number one in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. What about the thousands of empty homes and businesses that litter Gwinnett County? What about those empty red and white buses running around Lawrenceville ? How about the poor attendance at the Gwinnett Braves games? Please tell us Jim your plan on how to bring jobs, money, growth and prosperity back to Gwinnett County. The truth is you can't, because you don't have one. This whole process was a sham from the hand picked anti airport committee to the bogus reports that were submitted. The local news paper did a poor job of being objective and reporting the benefits of expanding Briscoe Field. The other companies that were interested in running Briscoe Field got fed up with the indecision and controversy and pulled out to save money. Now Propeller is stuck with a two million dollar tab for a vote that should have been held when all of the districts had proper representation. I am sure they will sue the county and get a settlement. Why are we only getting to read the proposal now? Expanding Briscoe Field makes sense to a county that has so many home foreclosures and empty businesses. Briscoe was never going to be a Hartsfield-Jackson, a couple dozen flights a day would not have ruined anybody's life. Don't throw your little yard signs away just yet, you have not heard the end of this issue. The real issue here is that most of the big players in this controversy all live in and around Lawrenceville and they didn't want their Mayberry rocked. If this airport was located in Norcross it would have been a done deal long ago. You could try to sell your home and move away from the airport, but Gwinnett's Home values are also in the tank since it is number one in home forclosures. So please people, start sharing your ideas on how Gwinnett County can be turned around and stop it from being the leader on the home foreclosures list. I am sure Jim Regan is retired, or he has a good job and he is financially sound, and I am happy for him, but there are thousands of Gwinnett County residents out there that are struggling to make ends meet and many are losing their homes or they can't find jobs because of the poor economy. Briscoe Field would not have solved all of the problems but it would have been a huge step in the right direction.

A common sight in Gwinnett County

A common sight in Gwinnett County by teelee

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 11 months ago

I know I'm wasting my breath responding to you... but I'm stubborn.

Just because Propeller submitted a proposal that promised to bring a certain number of jobs and economic money to Gwinnett doesn't mean that it would happen. Is it really hard to understand that?

If it is hard for you to understand... Look at the promises that were made about the Braves stadium. The only promise that really came to fruition was that we have a stadium now. It cost us millions of dollars more than what we were told and the taxpayers were left holding the bag.

In that proposal, we were told of all sorts of great economic development around the stadium. Live, work, and play developments that were going to be beautiful and generate lots of jobs.

What has happened now? The developers want to come back and build more apartments instead because the economic activity just isn't what they expected.

The airport was a similar disaster waiting to happen.

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GregRodgers 2 years, 11 months ago

TeeLee....stop with the "Gwinnett is still number one in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. What about the thousands of empty homes and businesses that litter Gwinnett County?"

When I read this it translates into....."Gwinnett County is number one in handing out building permits like candy because our BOC was so money hungry that it could not see that there may be problems with this in the future. That coupled with many people who took on homes that they could not possibly afford has led us to where we are today.

Now that the damage has been done by our government, greedy people and not so smart citizens...the TeeLee's, Brett Smiths and local greedy businessmen want to convince us that its in our best interests to kill our quality of life and home value so that they can prosper off of our loses in the guise of bringing "fictitious" jobs to the community."

We are not going to give in anymore!!

Cut the nonsense TeePee.....its over and you are trying to sell poop to the wrong crowd!

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Dubbin 2 years, 11 months ago

I am not Jim Regan but here is my plan for revitalizing Gwinnett. 1. Cut the corruption out of the county government so businesses can locate here without having to pay off politicians. 2. Increase cops and enforcement in the blighted areas of the county so the criminals will leave. 3. Prosecute deadbeat property owners that let 8 Mexican families live in one house and trash the property. 4. Lure business with the technical labor force coming out of our colleges. 5. Lure residents with a high quality of life brought on by crime free, clean, communities that don't have airplanes flying over them or video casinos next to them. 6. Build the types of neighborhoods where people want to live and are safe and I promise business will follow.

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Teelee, All the experts said it would not succeed, so the county would have ended up worse off! The airport expansion was not going to save us! Many of us have been struggling in this economy, but the airport expansion was not the panacea--quite the opposite!

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Teelee, We will not throw out our yard signs, and we will remain ever vigilant and organized.

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Teelee, one more thing. If you think the good people of Peachtree Corners would be open to a commercial airport in their backyard, think again. I worked in Norcross/Peachtree Corners for years, and my husband lived there for years. Many of our friends still live there--their quality of life is superb, and there's no way they'd give that up for a lousy airport!!

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peony64 2 years, 11 months ago

Watch this video. This is EXACTLY what would've happened in Gwinnett. Are you not aware that airlines are contracting and consolidating - NOT expanding? Taxpayers would've been on the hook, just like we were for the garbage fiasco, Braves stadium and HOT lanes. This would have been another huge step in the WRONG direction, and it would've created many more problems than it would've fixed.

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/34831732/

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gbfowler55 2 years, 11 months ago

teelee, "Briscoe was never going to be a Hartsfield-Jackson, a couple dozen flights a day would not have ruined anybody's life." If that is so, then where are the 20,000 jobs coming from? Or even 1000. And just for the record a couple of dozen 737's buzzing my house every day is pretty much going to ruin my life. This thing was a debacle from the start and would do no good for the county whatsoever. It is totally ridiculous, one of the worst ideas I have ever heard. And yes "Not in my back yard". How about yours?

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kevin 2 years, 11 months ago

with the County on the take for putting up millions in improvements first, and giving up all taxes to the private investor, Gwinnett gets put between a rock and a hard place. No matter what the so-called "estimates" say, Gwinnett stands to lose. The stats had no details!! Gwinnett will be left holding the bag with a larger airport to pay for when the private investor fails. They just walk away from it, leaving taxpayers with the larger burden. You can put all the $$ estimates you want on it, but the fact Gwinnett, especially the local area affected, it's price for not expanding the airport is PRICELESS.

I still think commissioners Boudreaux and Howard changed their votes to no ONLY because of the pending elections. They did NOT change their votes for the people's sake, but their own. I will not vote to re-elect either one of them. They knew it couldn't pass with a 2-2 vote so they voted with the Chairman and Heard. What double standard, you vote depending on what side of the fence looks best for you to get re-elected, not what the people wanted. Change the airport into a race track or put the new Falcon's stadium there. Wouodn't that make easier money for the County?

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GregRodgers 2 years, 11 months ago

If you believe in free market and capitalism then the markets will adjust on their own.

We should not be trying to force issues like Airports and Stadiums.

TeeLee keeps posting blight...however, everyday I see new businesses opening: Pars Cars, Mega Mart Duluth, Wok Star, Menchies, Riverside Pizza, Froyolo, Kroger - Dacula; Olive Garden, Academy Sports, NTB - Snellville

FarraTech, NCR, Mitsubishi Electric and Heating, Cavanna Packaging, Atlanta Retailers Association All moving headquarters to Gwinnett....THIS YEAR!!

The jobs are coming soon and more will come as well....all without Airport Deals TeeLee!!

Markets come back and jobs come back and will without hurting those in the Area around the airport!!

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Floyd_Akridge 2 years, 11 months ago

TeeLee...It is not Jim Regan's place to put forth a plan to "turn Gwinnett around". That belongs to your elected officials AND to their bosses...US.

Greg...I couldn't agree more...D3 is a great place. Love it here.

One thing is for certain...Brett Smith sure has not represented himself well this week.

It also disappoints me that someone would look at the proposal, notice the lack of details, and be okay with it and call the proposal a "starting point". That is absurd. I'm glad Commissioner Beaudreau voted it down.

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R 2 years, 11 months ago

I'm glad that Gwinnett county procurement process was utilized from day one, in that a chance of a lawsuit is left miniscule.

Chairwoman Nash didn't follow in the path blazed by the Trash plan project, so there will be NO court consent orders this time.

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

Floyd, You're right--a 700-page document that lacked important details--pitiful! And that's supposed to be a "starting point"? Ridiculous.

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SickandTired 2 years, 11 months ago

TeeLee, you say "Now Propeller is stuck with a two million dollar tab for a vote that should have been held when all of the districts had proper representation." IMHO several districts NEVER had proper representation. We should not consider BOC members like Bannister, Kenerly, and Lasseter as "properly representing" their districts when they had a board seat. A vote from those crooks in office would have been disasterous. I always knew Bannister and Kenerly were unethical/corrupt well before they got caught,

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166LZU 2 years, 11 months ago

It's hard to take your eyes of a "good" train wreck - and this one is apparently still in process, with Propeller releasing their post mortem proposal. It's interesting to note in the proposal;

1) For all those people who were looking forward to the jobs and maybe even submitted their resume, Propeller didn't even have a Director or HR. Either that, or their name is Currently Vacant.

2) If they tought they had a chance to get the citizens on board some how some way by providing the proposal after it was rejected and they are essentially disqualified, they forgot to include things like a site plan, a 55 dBA noise contour, a property value analysis, etc. - none of which are in their proposal.

3) The HJAIA O&D passenger forecast they used for "proof of concept" was prepared in 2007 - pre-recession. Not exactly current.

4) A couple of local banks and the Hall County BOC were ready to throw Lawrenceville under the bus with their documented support to expansion/Propeller.

We'll see if the train wreck is really over. You can't change the level of service of a from GA to commercial after 50 years. It's unprecidented, as far as I know.

I don't think the smoke has cleared yet...

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Katrina 2 years, 11 months ago

$2 million, 700 pages, and that's all they could come up with? Unbelievable! And I do think you're right--the smoke hasn't cleared yet.

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Dubbin 2 years, 11 months ago

The more I look at the proposal the more shocked I am at how laughably deficient the business case is. This thing makes Solyndra's business projections look sane by comparison. Had it been approved it would've ended just like Solyndra. Bankrupt and bail. Skim and Scoot. Ripoff and Run. These are phrases that come to mind when reading Propeller's fiction.

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kevin 2 years, 11 months ago

Propeller was only trying to get in on the "cheap" at taxpayer expense. They had no idea what would happen once his proposal would have been up and running. It was all a wishful mess. A 2-2 vote would also have stopped it from being approved. That is why Boudreaux & Howard decided to throw in a "yes" vote. They were stopped cold by Commissioner Lassiter's exit. Don't think for a second that Boudreaux & Howard would not have voted "yes" if Lassister was around to vote. They both played politics to get re-elected, which I won't do. Time for big changes in this board so the taxpayers can start fresh. It works fine.

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1250CMM 2 years, 11 months ago

It appears that Teelee believed everything Propeller stated without question. If you want to see what would have happened to Gwinnett if the airport passed, you need to visit Clayton County or drive around the Peachtree DeKalb airport. Nobody wants to live near a regional airport. Jobs? Get real. The job promise was the carrot to sway people to Propeller’s side. Read the documents from other airports that are living in the nightmare of their regional airports and learn from their actual experience.

As for Propeller, they are now showing their true colors. Since I didn’t get what I want, I am thinking about suing the county. Apparently, Mr. Brett Smith doesn’t understand the cost of doing business. In the world of business, the reality is there aren’t any guarantees regardless of how much you spend.

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