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New Twist in Airport Expansion Debate

Surdex Corporation considers building a 30,000 sq. ft. facility if airport expansion goes forward.

The discussion about expanding the Carroll County Airport runway has been ongoing for more than five years, and it looks like it will continue just a little longer. 

The current plan being considered includes building a new runway that will total 6,400 feet in length. The current runway is about 5,100 feet.  

At a May 17 public hearing on the airport expansion, a representative of Surdex Corporation announced a proposal to build a 30,000 sq. ft. facility at the airport should the expansion move forward. The facility would be used to consolidate the business' four locations. 

Surdex Corporation provides geospatial data services—essentially taking high resolution aerial images, often for mapping purposes. 

At Tuesday's county commissioner work session, the commissioners were briefed in more detail about the proposal. According to Jeff Topper, deputy director of Public Works, Surdex would build the facility, costing an estimated $6 million, on the 13 acre plot of land next to the current runway. The company would have a fleet of seven aircraft, three of which are currently based at the Carroll County airport. 

The new business opportunity presents an element that was not previously on the table when commissioners were considering the airport expansion. According to Topper, there are economic perks to Surdex expanding its operations here. In addition to the 15 employees Surdex currently has working at the airport, another 45 will relocate here. Surdex will also pay ground rent to the county. 

But the commissioners presented a host of questions, some without readily available answers.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett-Frazier, R-District 1, wanted to know how the funding will break down, both in terms of how much the project will cost per year as well as how much each individual part of the project will cost (land acquisition, construction). 

David Jones from Delta Airport Consultants said that at this point the project has been looked at as a whole and the numbers Frazier is looking for simply aren't available. 

Topper did show cost figures to complete the entire project which would include land acquisition, relocating Meadow Branch Road and building the actual runway, among other things.

Topper explained that approximately $20.2 million would be spent between 2012 and 2017, and another $53.9 million between 2017 and 2027.

According to Tom Rio, director of Public Works, Carroll County will ultimately pay for 2.5 percent of those costs. Ninety-five percent will be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the other 2.5 percent will be paid for by the state. 

The county currently owns 475 acres at the airport, and according to Topper, another 100 are needed to complete the proposed runway extension project.

One of the next steps in the runway extension project is acquiring land, some of which is occupied by residents and businesses. Moving forward will require the county to put out money that it will not be able to recoup should it decide at a later point to halt the project. 

Rio pointed out that the current runway will need renovations in another four or five years. He said that if the extension project goes forward, the new runway would replace the current runway. Rio said there has been no cost analysis to determine how much it would cost to renovate the current runway in five years.

For more information about the Carroll County Airport runway extension project, click here

Con Buczkowski June 08, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Makes me sad to think about the noisey, smelly planes taking off over our homes...and coming down for a landing right over the roof of our cars while we are stuck in traffic. Poor little Westminster doesn't know what she's in for. Money isn't everything, ya know. Sigh...Con Buczkowski
Patricia Desautels June 08, 2011 at 04:50 PM
No I do not. My husband died six years ago and the year after his death I tried to sale my house and my childrens building lots. Had them all most sold till the contractor and the women who wanted one of the lots heard about the expansion and they said NO WAY. Had it happen to me a second time . I know that the county won't be buying my land. But one day one of these planes is going to land in my trees or on my house . I have written to the Commissioners and haven't got a reply. Also told them I didn't like the fact that they have meetings for this in the newspaper on Tuesday AM and the meeting is that night. I think they should give people a little time to change plans or read the paper. Some people don't read the paper till they get home from work. More noise, More Traffic on 97 north we don't need Patricia Desautels
Kym Byrnes (Editor) June 08, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Hi Patricia. Patch will start posting the meeting schedule for the Commissioners on Monday morning. I can at least post when they are having open sessions and what topics they will be discussing. I will include any public hearings that are posted. Best, Kym
Patricia Desautels June 21, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Thanks Kym, I would apperciate that. I am just getting the hanfg of this thing. Patricia

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