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Ennis Daily News

Locals turn out regarding airport

Public meeting held to get public input on project
A kick-off meeting for the Environmental Assessment of the new Ennis Airport was held Thursday afternoon at Ennis Public Library, and employees from Coffman Associates Airport Consultants had their hands full answering questions and discussing concerns from Ennis residents upset about plans to build the replacement facility.
There was disquiet among many residents who attended the meeting and several questions were raised from people who owned land at the proposed airport site, which will be located north of Hwy. 287 just east of the Texas Motorplex. The purpose of the meeting was to get input from landowners and other Ennis residents, which Coffman Associates airport planner Patrick Taylor said was never a problem when discussing the installation of new airports.
“A significant industrial facility is always controversial,” Taylor said. “People want to know what is going on in their community, and we’ve tried to make the process as public as possible.”
A handful of citizens showed their frustration at the meeting over their concerns about how the land for the airport will be acquired. One resident was loudly verbalizing her opposition to imminent domain being used to buy the property.
When asked, Coffman representatives did not express a plan yet for how the land would be purchased.
There were charts on display showing the plan for the airport thus far. The master plan for the airport is about half finished, and should be completed in three to four months, Taylor said.
The site was chosen after a feasibility study indicated a need for the new facility. An aerial survey of the land was conducted, and no significant obstructions were found at approaches to the runway ends, he said.
“We were worried about transmission lines, but these proved not to be a problem,” Taylor said.
Currently, Coffman Associates is conducting an Environmental Assessment of the proposed airport site. The Environmental Assessment is being done in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, said Molly Waller, a Coffman Associates employee. This assessment will evaluate the environmental impact of the project, including noise impact, impact on protected species and impact on wetlands. Social impact will also be evaluated, Waller said. This includes the impact on landowners at the site.
“This summer, we are going to print the draft Environmental Assessment, which will be up for public review and comment,” Waller said.
After a public hearing, a final Environmental Assessment will be provided to the Texas Department of Transportation. At that point a decision will be made whether or not to proceed.
It would be at least three to five years before construction of the airport would begin, Taylor said. During this time, the source of funding for the project will be determined.
“Airport projects are 90 percent funded by the Airport Improvement Program under the FAA,” Taylor said.
This program funds airport development projects across the country. The airport is expected to cost between $33 million and $37 million, but the actual cost has not been determined. The city of Ennis is responsible for the remaining 10 percent of the cost. One place this money could come from is the sale of the old Ennis Airport. When an airport is sold, the money must either go to fund a new airport or to the FAA.
Plans for the new airport include space for an initial 25 planes with the ability to expand to 70 over a period of 20 years. The airport is expected to have about 20,000 takeoffs or landings annually. There will be one runway 5,000 feet long and which could accommodate turbo propeller planes or anything smaller, as well as small business jets.

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Posted by on Feb 27 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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