The six residents, in a letter to Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Judson Turner, said they want him to reverse former agency director Carol Couch’s determination that airport officials did not need a variance from stream buffer laws on a site adjacent to the Silver Comet Field terminal building.
Their attorney, Peter Steenland, of the Washington, D.C., firm of Sidley Austin, said despite whatever plans the Paulding Airport Authority showed Couch in 2009, it changed them to include parking lots and enclosed hangars that “do not fit” within an exemption that only allowed roadway drainage structures.
“They said they were going to do one thing, and they did another,” said Steenland, in a telephone interview.
However, Paulding Airport Director Blake Swafford said Steenland’s accusations that airport officials gave the state one concept plan “and then turned around and changed it” were “silly.”
“The concept that we gave to [the environment protection division] was a concept,” he said. “It was not a hard and fast set of plans.
“There was no smoke and mirrors here, there’s no deception.”
Swafford said the development plan calls for the airport authority to prepare the site but “some things may have to be shifted around to make sure we stay in compliance” with state law on stream buffers if a company constructs buildings of any kind.
The group seeking the reversal includes six county residents who prompted a new federal environmental review of the airport in anticipation of proposed commercial passenger airline service.
Officials at the EPD said Tuesday they had received the letter and were evaluating it.