The Airport Authority voted 7-0 to instruct the chairman, who was not at Monday’s meeting, to draft a letter requesting letters of support from other local governmental boards, including the Griffin-Spalding County Board of Education and the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority, “to show future prospects,” explained Airport Authority Secretary and Griffin City Commissioner Joanne Todd, who also serves on the Development Authority.
The motion followed a discussion on getting support from the development authority and getting others on board with support, said Airport Authority member Carl Pruett. He noted the new airport in Douglasville has been a success because of the support from the industrial authority there, which also provided land for the site.
Airport Authority members were also encouraged to come out, in a show of support, to the Spalding County Board of Commissioners meeting, at 5 p.m., Dec. 3, a called meeting, where the county is scheduled to vote on a proposed change to the county’s future land use map to institutional/public for the 128 tracts totaling 796.45 acres, more or less, making up the proposed site of the new airport, roughly bordered by Jackson, High Falls and Musgrove roads.
County Commissioner and Airport Authority member Raymond Ray explained the change in the land use map “allows it to better facilitate the airport.”
Community Development Director Chad Jacobs said last month and Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith told the Airport Authority on Monday that the future land use map is just a planning tool, just a plan for the future and not a rezoning. Smith noted the recommended denial by the Planning Commission “seems somewhat contradictory since the site was already approved by the county and is in the county’s transportation plan.”
Smith also pointed out there is also an agreement between the city and county that the site would be annexed into the city and rezoned.
There was some concern the Planning Commission decision was emotional, in response to the 40 who came out in opposition. Ray said the county commissioners would consider the minutes of that meeting, as well as “anyone who wants to have their voice heard,” he said to fellow Airport Authority members.
Pruett revisited the plans for members to speak with those in the community, including local banks and the need of letters of understanding so the bankers understand the involvement from city, county, Georgia Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration on the new airport site.
“There’s a lot of hoops and legal stuff to jump through,” Pruett said.
One of those concerns is the state cited need for a regional airport in the area and, Pruett said, “Butts County getting back in gear to get the regional airport built there.”
He said the organizing group, the Butts County Airport Initiative, has a website and Facebook page seeking support for an airport there. He said the group “brought people and local bankers with them to the GAA (Georgia Airport Association) conference,” held last month.
The Butts County Airport Initiative has also made presentations to the Jackson Butts County Rotary Club and the Butts County Commissioners and has support of the Chamber of Commerce there. The airport is being pushed by Jackson Lake-area resident and flying enthusiast John Carter, who has made the presentations in Butts County.
According to published reports in the Jackson Progress-Argus, Carter cited GDOT reports on general aviation airports and the success of Thomaston’s airport in luring industry there.
In that story last month in the Progress-Argus, Carter told the Butts County Commissioners “a Butts airport could be similar to the planned second Spalding airfield, perhaps cheaper to build, and that local funds could be expended over time, and recouped from ad valorem taxes on aircraft.”
The GDOT reports and recouping of local funds have also been used in support of the new Griffin airport. Smith, when speaking to the Rotary Club of Griffin last week, said the new airport would cost about $12 million, with about 95 percent being reimbursed on the back end by GDOT and the FAA.
The possible location for a Butts County airport is between the city of Jackson and Interstate 75, between Georgia Highways 16 and 36, but most likely closer to the interstate for access as well as that area being close to the Butts County industrial parks and the state prison.