Homeowners fight plan for new regional airport

By: Tom Regan


GRIFFIN, Ga. - Homeowners are banding together to oppose plans for a new Griffin Spalding Airport. The airport authority has submitted a proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Georgia Department of Transpiration to secure funding for the airport, which will be located on a proposed site just outside the city of Griffin.
Residents on a street that sits about 1,000 feet from the runway fear the airport will bring noise, pollution and diminish their home values.
“This is not a little thing to the people in Griffin, Spalding County. This is major. It affects a lot of people,” said Griffin native Jim Pritchett.
Pritchett told Channel 2's Tom Regan if the airport plan is approved, his sister will be forced to give up her home, which is located on the airport site.
Officials predict about 50 homes will be acquired and affected homeowners will receive fair market value for their property, in addition to moving expenses and related costs.
"They tell you, if we just had a new airport, it's going to get all this new business in here, see? I don't believe that for a second," Pritchett said.
The director of the existing Griffin Spalding Airport said the new airport is key to the area's economic development.
The current airport is 75 years old and in need of millions of dollars in renovation. In addition, its runway cannot accommodate new larger corporate jets.
To build the airport, the city and county must provide $6 million in funds to acquire land. The cost of constructing the airport will be picked up by the federal government.
“It's a $60 million project. Ninety percent of it comes out of the federal airport improvement trust fund. We're looking to be competitive when industries are looking for a place to put their companies," said airport director Robert Mohl.
Mohl told Regan that the runway would not pose a danger to homes and schools nearby.
"We've looked at the schools in the area. We've made sure our alignment keeps those schools out of runway protection zone. All the concerns, while they are valid concerns, we've addressed them," Mohl said.
Residents don't believe there is widespread community support for a new airport.
"They need to put it up for a vote. If they did, they would find out in a hurry how many people are opposed to it. This is ridiculous. It's just typical government people wanting to take care of themselves," said homeowner Carl Baker.

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