04/22/10 — County holds off on airport land rules

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County holds off on airport land rules

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 22, 2010 1:46 PM

There is no pressing need at present to pursue a proposed moratorium on development around the Wayne County Airport, Wayne County Manager Lee Smith told county commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

Commissioners have been considering a 90-day moratorium to enable them to take a look at construction near the facility.

However, commissioners proceeded with a scheduled public hearing on the proposed moratorium -- a hearing that lasted less than a minute and at which no one from the public spoke. Commissioners offered no comments either.

Prior to the hearing, Smith told commissioners he and his staff recommended no action be taken.

Smith said in an interview that the initial impetus for considering a moratorium was that the commissioners and the county administrative staff were concerned the county had not been involved enough in the workings of the airport.

The need for the more active hand is the result of the county assuming sole responsibility of the airport, possibly by the end of August.

Commissioners had been particularly concerned about safety and expansion at the airport, Smith said. He noted that the area, especially as it relates to housing, is growing.

"We wanted the staff to look at the ends and sides of the airport," he said. "And after looking at it to see if there was an issue, there turns out there is not one. It appears right now nothing is critical. We feel more comfortable now. I think that as a staff we found we do not need a moratorium."

Smith said he had met with the airport planner, FAA representatives and state Department of Transportation officials and that all were satisfied that no action is currently warranted.

That does not mean commissioners won't address the issue in the future, Smith said.

Should commissioners decide to do so, any proposed changes they would make would require a public hearing before they could be acted upon.

Presently, the airport is a joint venture of the county and city of Goldsboro and it is directly governed by the Goldsboro-Wayne Airport Authority. The authority will be dissolved once the county assumes sole ownership.

City officials announced in March plans to turn over the city's portion of the operation. The airport, hangars, equipment and infrastructure are valued at somewhere between $20 million and $30 million.

Most of the airport funding comes through federal and state sources, although the county provides some as well. The city does not provide funding, but does make appointments to the authority board.

The county currently spends about $250,000 annually at the airport. Smith has said the change will not cost the county any more than it does now.

Local legislation will be required to amend the city charter to allow the change. Smith said he is hopeful that the legislation will be approved early in the upcoming short session so that the actual transfer can be made in July or August.

Originally, Tuesday's hearing was to have been a launching pad to consider a 90-day moratorium on zoning changes, subdivisions and building permits in an area two miles from the north and south ends of the runway and 800 feet from the east and west sides. The time would have been used to give commissioners an opportunity to review building, zoning and subdivisions in that area.

Most property around the airport is zoned light industry which allows various industries, warehouses, storage and restaurants, but not residential development.