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Airport authority’s site plans differ from what it told feds, group alleges
by Tom Spigolon
July 08, 2014 01:45 PM | 2591 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The terminal at Silver Comet Field near Dallas.
The terminal at Silver Comet Field near Dallas.
Paulding residents who oppose commercialization of the county’s Silver Comet Field airport are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revoke a permit for a planned industrial site because they say the airport’s current development plans are different from those disclosed to the corps.

The group, including Jordan and Janice Louie, Bob and Mary Board and Sue Wilkins is represented by attorney Peter Steenland. He said the corps should take the action because the authority changed plans for the permitted site and failed to comply with conditions of the permit.

The corps in April 2013 approved the airport authority’s plan to route a stream through a 2,800-foot pipe and fill one acre of forested wetland to develop the site, he wrote. The work has not yet been done, airport officials said.

The group’s attorney, Peter Steenland, wrote that the airport authority included plans for a 345,000-square-foot hangar and office space on the site in its submission to the corps. However, he said the authority actually sought to include the site in a 190-acre development called the Paulding Aerospace Technology Park which is “integral to the authority’s plans for the airport and involves a significant increase [beyond] the permitted activity.”

“Moreover, it is now clear that the [airport authority] has little or no intention to use this development to support additional regional general aviation demand in the form of additional hangar space or otherwise,” Steenland wrote, referring to plans announced in October 2013 for passenger airline service.

He wrote the authority now is “moving aggressively” to develop a commercial airport, including the technology park which will have up to 800,000 square feet of hangar space and facilities for maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. No “comprehensive assessment” of all the planned projects’ impacts had been done, he wrote.

Because of this, the corps has “ample basis” to find that the authority improperly “segmented,” or showed only part, of its plans to authorities, Steenland wrote.

Airport Director Blake Swafford denied the allegations in Steenland’s letter. The two sites, one adjacent to the airport’s terminal and taxiway area and the other an industrial park without direct runway access, have always been separate projects, he said.

“No one is pulling the wool over the Corps of Engineers’ eyes,” Swafford said Monday.

The same residents recently made a similar plan-switching allegation in asking the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to reverse its 2009 determination the site did not need a variance from state stream buffer requirements.

Swafford said the group is getting “desperate” because it was unable to win a court injunction to halt a loan to the airport, and lost at the state superior and supreme court levels in opposition to a bond issuance.

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