04/12/09 — New airport height rules adopted by Duplin board

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New airport height rules adopted by Duplin board

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 12, 2009 2:00 AM

KENANSVILLE -- The Duplin Board of Commissioners took a possible first step toward zoning last week by passing a land use ordinance with an updated airport height restriction.

Airport Manager George Futrelle said the land use ordinance and the height restriction ordinance are two different things. The Airport Commission made new changes in the height restriction ordinance to protect a new runway, and those changes are being incorporated into a new land use ordinance developed by the county's Planning Department for land surrounding the airport. The area covered in both ordinances extends south from the new runway to Magnolia and north to Red Hill and Thurman Herring roads.

"The zones go out and up like a football stadium," he said. "The farther out you go, the less restrictive it is."

The runway protection zone runs 200 feet out from the ends of the runway and is 1,000 feet wide. In that area, nothing taller than 150 feet can be built.

To accomplish that, though, the county is expected to have to buy about 132 acres of land off both ends of the runway with help from a $900,000 Federal Aviation Authority grant.

And several property owners off the ends of the runway have said the idea of selling has been hard on them.

One of the property owners, Ralph Hall, told commissioners he doesn't want to stand in the way of progress, but if the property is taken away, all the generations who come after him will lose.

"It appears the landowner in this case may not be getting a good deal," he said, asking commissioners to change the zoning to commercial.

"We (also) can do an aviation easement and not take ownership, but there are so many things they can't do with the land," Futrelle said. "They can't even grow certain crops because of the birds that would be attracted. And then, they'd still have to pay taxes on it. If we buy it, we know there won't be a house built on it. The FAA desires for you (the county) to own it, and the easement costs are so close to the purchase costs that it behooves the owner to just sell it."

The new ordinance becomes effective May 1.

Futrelle then hopes to have all the appraisals and done by the end of the year and negotiations under way.

"We do not want to use imminent domain and condemn the property," he said.

"They're our neighbors, and we want them to get as much out of the property as they can. The last thing we want is to have unhappy neighbors."