In conjunction with the settlement terms of a second Environmental Assessment completed last month at Paulding County’s Silver Comet Field, a public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1 at the Paulding airport.
During last week’s regular meeting for November, Airport Director Blake Swafford told the PCAA board members that the hearing, originally planned for the terminal building at Silver Comet Field, has been moved to the new 25,000 sq. feet corporate hangar building, since attendance could exceed the space capacity of the terminal building, he said.
“The corporate hangar is probably the largest open space in any building in the county...that building has the capacity to handle as many people as could feasibly show up,” he said. Format for the portion of time set aside for people to make public comment was also been modified. “Originally the idea was that [remarks] would be written down and given to the court reporter, that has changed,” Swafford said. “We will still have both options, so you’ll have the option to write it down and give it to someone, but you’ll also have the option [that] if you want to speak publicly you can get up and do that,” Swafford said.
Board member Mayor Doris Devey asked about additional format parameters, specifically time limits. Swafford said individual speakers would be timed, but not the overall public input section. “As many people that want to show up and speak we’ll accommodate... so if we finish up at 10, that’s fine, if we’re there until 2:00 a.m. that’s fine,” he said.
Following the hearing there will be a 10-day period during which questions and comments can be put to consultants that worked on the document. In the works for over a year the EA was ordered by a judge as settlement of a lawsuit filed by a group of Paulding County residents claiming that the initial assessment did not take into account that the site would endeavor to add commercial service.
Paulding County's 7-year-old airport, which sits among forested hills off a four-lane state road, would have one gate and handle about four commercial flights a day if the plans were approved for airline service. Paulding’s Airport and IBA Boards still envision the state’s first airport in 25 years and an adjacent technology park to become a big draw in the future for aerospace and aviation industries.
And with the document completed the airport could eventually seek the 139 Permit that would allow Silver Comet Field and Propeller Investments to pursue limited commercial flights.
Allegiant Air informed Paulding airport officials in 2013 the airline intended to provide passenger service after the Federal Aviation Administration gives the airport certification for commercial flights. Silver Comet is currently only approved for general aviation uses only.
Swafford added though that in preparing the assessment document FAA consultants would have anticipated most, if not all, sections of it would be challenged and when the FAA issues its ruling he expects there will be a lawsuit filed “within hours” and that it would probably ask for an injunction.
PCAA ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY
Swafford noted during last week’s meeting that an economic impact study had been completed and is posted on the Paulding Chamber of Commerce’s website. The PCAA also plan to post the document on its own website, he said.
The Paulding Chamber of Commerce funded the study by Washington, D.C.,-based InterVistas Consulting to measure the economic impact of proposed commercial passenger service at Silver Comet Field airport near Dallas.
For the purposes of the Paulding airport study, PCAA was compared to airports that range in size from Hartsfield-Jackson to Silver Comet Field, and included sites at Concord, NC, St. Cloud Regional Airport near Minneapolis, Minn., Concord Regional Airport near Charlotte, N.C. and Rickenbacker Airport, outside of Columbus Ohio. Commercial airline service at Paulding’s airport may create the equivalent of 55 full-time jobs earning a total of $2.7 million in the first year, according to the new study released last week.