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Resolution Against Airport Commercialization Fails

District 3 commissioner Mike Beaudreau proposed substitute motion which does not limit commercialization.

Commercial service at Briscoe Field will remain an option for now.

Last month, District 4 Commissioner John Heard proposed a resolution to remove commercial service from consideration at the Lawrenceville airport.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in order to hold a public hearing for the purpose of gathering citizen input on the matter. in which opponents to commercial service far outnumbered those in support.

On May 3, before the commission voted on Heard’s resolution, District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau proposed a substitute motion to direct staff to issue a request for proposals (RFPs) for privatization which could include commercialization. Beaudreau’s motion also called for the creation of an 11-member citizen review committee.

“The citizens have spoken and they would like a decision,” Beaudreau said. “This is the right thing to do for the citizens.”

Beaudreau said commissioners were elected to make the difficult decisions and needed to move forward with the RFPs for the benefit of the county. Last year, the county issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) from firms interested in submitting proposals to privatize the airport. American Airports Corporation, Gwinnett Airport, LLC and Propeller Investments submitted RFQs. The issuance of an RFP would be the next step in the process of privatizing the airport.

“There will be plenty of opportunity for public input,” Beaudreau added in an effort to address the concerns of those against commercialization of the airport.

Before introducing his substitute motion, Beaudreau said he did not want to place restrictions on the RFP.

“I don’t believe it is the wise thing to do to limit the scope of our RFP,” Beaudreau said. “I think this would not be something that will benefit the county moving forward so I strongly oppose this.”

District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter also expressed a desire to see the RFP process go forward.

“I am not okay with making a decision that I don’t have the facts on,” Lasseter said referring to the fact that no RFP has been issued. “I don’t see where finding out the truth and the bottom line is going to hurt any of us. I think the only thing that can hurt us is not finding out the truth.”

According to District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard, those who have contacted her support the commercialization and privatization of the airport by a 2-to-1 margin. Howard said her constituents, and even some Lawrenceville residents, have asked her to consider how the airport could benefit the county as a whole.

“We are not looking at doing something to the airport that is going to reduce the quality of life,” Howard said. “What we are trying to do is improve the quality of life around the airport and Gwinnett.”

Citing the potential impact on the heavily populated area around the airport, Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said she could not support the commercialization of Briscoe Field.

“As I’ve seen nothing that gives me assurance of the magnitude of economic development that might come as a result of this, I am opposed to commercialization at Briscoe Field,” she said.

Before the vote on Beaudreau’s substitute motion, Heard proposed an amendment that would have provided greater specificity for the composition of the citizen review committee, but did not address commercialization. The motion to amend failed 3-2 with Nash and Heard voting in favor to amend.

Beaudreau accused Heard of trying to “gut” the motion and called his motion simply a decision on whether to move forward on the RFP process.

Nash said she felt it was too early to issue RFPs saying the county needed additional information in order to structure the RFPs so that the best interests of the county were considered.

“My main concern is that we not issue RFPs until we have gone through due diligence studies,” Nash said.

During the discussion, Heard complained that he was not given a copy of Beaudreau’s motion until five minutes prior to the meeting and had no time to review it. While agreeing that a comprehensive RFP was needed, Heard maintained commercialization will cause economic harm to those around the airport and reiterated his opposition.

“I am bound by my oath of office to protect and do no harm to the citizens of this district,” Heard said.

Ultimately, Beaudreau’s substitute motion passed with Nash and Heard voting against. With its passage, Beaudreau’s motion then replaced Heard’s resolution as the voting item. The commission then voted to pass Beaudreau’s motion by a 3-2 margin, again with Nash and Heard voting against. The vote clears the way for RFPs to be issued.

C. Simpson May 03, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Although I am often in disagreement with Mr. Beaudreau, I applaud him on his motion. Get the facts and make an informed decision based on what is best for the county "as a whole".
David B. Manley May 03, 2011 at 11:51 PM
I have no "dog in the fight" concerning the commercialization of the airport including having no friends, clients, or acquaintances involved. Nonetheless, I appreciate the stand Commissioners Howard, Lasseter and Beaudreau have taken on this issue, clearing the way for RFPs to be issued. Rather than kowtowing to a mob mentality, the facts need investigation and and an informed decision needs to be made on what is best for the entire county.
D. Politz May 04, 2011 at 01:42 AM
I am extremely disappointed as I thought most board members voted in last fall were opposed to the expansion of the airport. It looks like the citizens of Gwinnett are being railroaded again. The problem is the area around the current airport is densly populated with homes and businesses. Where are they going to expand to? Our home has already lost $75,000 in value with the housing crash and we cannot afford another loss in value. Houses are not selling now. What do you think will happen when 737's are flying over our homes 10 -20 times a day! All this so someone can fly to Orlando or Las Vegas for their vacation sooner? And where do you think most of the flights from Lawrenceville will end up going? To Hartsfield airport to make the connections to 90% of the cities not serviced in Lawrenceville. Do you want Lawrenceville to become the next Hapeville or College Park? Hartsfield did not improve their quality of life. And where do they come up with the 1,000's of jobs that will be created? 10 gates - maybe 50 -100 people? The person bringing in Propellor Investments went to college in Georgia and started some airport in Europe. This does not qualify in turning over our county to people who have no long term interest in our lives. It's all a money thing. If the airport goes private the county will be forgiven millions in Federal loan money. That is the only reason this is being considered by the board. No airport expansion! Go elsewhere & leave Gwinnett alone.
Mark May 04, 2011 at 01:59 AM
So Mike Boudreau has shown his true colors as a friend of development to the detriment of the citizens. How sad. I thought better of him. Last week's meeting showed the citizens' OVERWHELMING opposition to the airport. You don't need to be a genius or have an RFP to know an airport in the middle of a residential area is a bad idea. I resent the opinion of people who want jets to take off and land over my house thinking I am ignorant of the facts and that I would change my mind if I knew more. I am an intelligent man who realizes what happens when jets fly over your house, or a major hospital or schools. What happened to the will and desire of the people? Thankfully, we all get a chance to cast votes against Mr. Boudreau in the next election. I am so sorely disappointed in him.
Theresa May 04, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Larryville's finest in action - once again.
Tim May 04, 2011 at 12:32 PM
As he has again and again during his tenure on the BOC Mike Boudreau has once again shown that he only represents Snellville. Just because Snellville and and the surrounding area have become blighted and trashy he seems to want to drag the northern part of his district down to Snellvilles' level. This rush by the county DOT Director ( who lives in Newton County) and business interests whose owners and Chief Executives live no where near the airport seems odd. Perhaps Danny Porter needs to take a long, hard look at who owns the land around the airport, how much land has Gwinnett DOT already purchased there, from whom and for how much? This rush by county DOT, Boudreau et al to get the airport commercialized while ignoring taxpayer input seems all too familiar. Maybe the D.A. and his staff need to start nosing around....
Sheila Wiessel May 04, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Sheila The people pushing this agenda didn't lose their homes, schools and way of life when the Atlanta airport did the exact same thing on the other side of Atlanta. Take a look at the decay there. The people pushing this have their own agenda and I can almost certainly assure you that it is personal and to their financial good. The people that don't want this better stick together and get serious, because the ones that do want it are not concerned about the average citizen they are only concerned with lining their own pockets with silver and gold. The name Judas comes to mind.
Laura May 04, 2011 at 01:13 PM
It's obvious that everyone in favor of Briscoe's privatization feels they are "safe" from any detrimental influence on their property values and lifestyle. The proponents say the opponents are ignorant and uninformed. I guess it's easier to "get your way" if you make your opponent sound stupid. When the government holds a meeting "to get both sides," what is their purpose? Are they just going through the motions to pretend that the people have a say in anything that the government decides, or do they think the outpouring of support will be in their favor? It seems that the only voice government listens to is the voice with the most money--wink, wink. Yes, we can vote lying scoundrels out in the next election, but their damage will have already taken its toll. What blows me away is the ignorance of the BOC to think that this will not have detrimental effect on the area (or them personally). White Plains airport was a military airfield before it was privatized in the 1940s--residents oppose further expansion and would REJECT having that airport altogether if it were an issue today!!! Greenville airport is next to a TWELVE-lane interstate and is in an industrial area. Hwy 316 and the tens of thousands of residents surrounding Briscoe CANNOT handle commercial flights or expansion of the airport...unless the idea is to blight the area. Has the BOC done any research on their own, or are they just believing what they hear from the people with the most money?
Jim Brothers May 04, 2011 at 01:56 PM
It it a shame that BIG MONEY has won again and the votes have lost. If Mike Beaudreau wants a big airport lets give him the money and build it in Snellville. I would be glad to close Briscoe and relocate to it from Lawrenceville to Snellville. Alas that is not cost effective. It amazes me how, supposedly, intelligent people make stupid decisions. I agee lets get facts but I also believe that with a decision of this size and the great deal of expense at hand it should be put a VOTE of the entire county. If the 2 commissioners pusing this are REALLY concerned for the well being and greater good of this county and they do not stand to PROFIT from the decision then let the PEOPLE decide. I know they are elected to make decisions and I believe in the lead, follow or get of the way attitude but then there are times that it is best to let the majority vote. When they get all of the facts and they have spent too much of OUR money on committees and research and have issued RFP's they then should ask the people if we want this and are willing to spend money to finance the future projects. IF NOT THEN IT IS TIME TO ISSUE A RECALL ELECTION.
Mary K. May 04, 2011 at 02:20 PM
“There will be plenty of opportunity for public input,” Beaudreau added in an effort to address the concerns of those against commercialization of the airport. Ummm....wasn't that what the April 28th meeting was for? And wasn't there an overwhelming number of people there opposing the inclusion of commercial airlines? So basically, Beaudreau is saying that he didn't get the public input that HE wanted. And the 11-member citizen review board? I believe that the majority of that board should be made up of residents who live in the areas directly affected by commercial planes flying overhead....though somehow I have a feeling that isn't the plan. Thank you, Charlotte Nash and John Heard, for keeping your campaign promises and for looking out for the residents of Dacula and Lawrenceville. It's time to stand firm and stay diligent in the fight against privitization that includes commercial airplanes.
Jimmy Orr May 04, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Mary K., you pegged it. I was at the April 28th. meeting you speak of . My opinion is/was that the opponentes (which I am one) of the privatization of Bricoe Field with an option to expand for commercial airline service presented concrete facts. The proponents presented, in my opinion, the same "smoke & mirrors" of improving the economy, creating jobs, not having to drive to Hartsfield-Jackson, etc. Not one time did the proponents present any facts to repudiate what those in opposition were saying except B.J. Van Gundy who attempted to dispute the decibel noise levels as heard on the 12Stone sound system by saying the decibel meter on his cell phone proved otherwise. As I undersatnd it, the folks who operate the sound system at 12Stone who recorded the various decibel noise levels which were presented said same were accurate. The one thing that no one has brought out is that suppose privatization should take place and the option to expand the airport to provide commercial airline traffic is approved, who is going to foot tyhe bill for expansion of the existing airport facilities and the infrastucture reuired to support said expansion? Will the firm selected for privatization foot the bill? If not, "this here old boy" don't believe in corporate welfare aka TADS. Would the county issue bonds for airport expansion and infrastructure improvements. (TO BE CONTINUED)
Jimmy Orr May 04, 2011 at 05:01 PM
(CONTINUATION - James H. Orr, Jr.) Would the county guarantee bond debt, as they did on county issued bonds to built the stadium, on the backs of the taxpayers through a tax increases should revenues from privatization fail to materialize? What if privatization should fail? The FAA would advse the county to "keep on trucking" (operate the airport) and we taxpayers would be stuck with the bill. Right now, I am talking about right now, Charlotte Nash & Company should pursue projected cost models based on privatization of Briscoe Field as a general aviation airport and privatization of Briscoe Field with the option to expand the airport for commercial airline traffic to include infrastructure improvements to support said expansion. It is not unreasonable to ask our BOC leadership to come up with some projected cost figures as per above. Cost alone might cause them to take a second look if the county excuse me, I meant taxpayers, have to foot the bill. Why? Taxpayers VOTE!
Alice O'Lenick May 04, 2011 at 10:49 PM
I applaud the commissioners who voted to collect more information on privatization of the airport. How can anyone vote for or against without being fully informed? I have a "dog in this fight", I live in Dacula, and I need more info before I can make an intelligent decision. As for other airports by Propellar, Westchester NY, Teterboro NJ, both are wonderful airports for the commuter and for their area (I am a transplanted yankee living in Gwinnett for 27 yrs). Let the people of Gwinnett vote, hopefully with an informed opinion not just emotion.
David B. Manley May 04, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Re: the 6:49 Wed. 5/4 comment: Well thought out and presented, from someone who has a direct stake in the matter, Alice O'Lenick. Acting so others cannot be heard at public meetings, and the emotional diatribes, evident a rabble mentality reminiscent of lynchings and Nazi Germany.
Mark May 05, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Alice and D.B. Manley Those of us who have lived near airports, experienced the decline in those areas and lived noisy, miserable lives until we could escape need no more information. We are intelligent enough to make that decision now. We are not "uninformed." What is so hard to understand about that? Pushing an agenda that is so clearly against the desires of the citizens is reminiscent of Soviet Russia.
Mark May 05, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Alice The Westchester airport may be good for commuters but last year it averaged over 300 noise complaints each month from nearby residents. The scary part of that is that it is surrounded by parks, a large lake and huge wooded tracts. Briscoe, on the other hand, is surrounded by subdivisions, a hospital, schools, and a town center.
David B. Manley May 05, 2011 at 04:54 AM
Gee, Mark. You lived near airports, "escaped," then moved near another airport! No, I don't think you "are intelligent enough... ." Why not move far away from an airport? If housing prices in the subject area are as depressed as D. Politz indicates (above) you have more of a problem than a bad housing economy and an airport (housing prices in my area are little, if at all, depressed). Perhaps paying to relocate some homeowners for the airport might be the best thing. You say "[P]ushing an agenda that is so clearly against the desires of the citizens is reminiscent of Soviet Russia." First, the only "agenda" is to gather facts. Second, each situation is different, and the present one needs thorough investigation rather than setting up 'straw men' and kowtowing to an emotional minority of the Gwinnett population. Third, you use "citizens" as if such are the majority of Gwinnett residents, which is evidently not the case. What is so hard to understand is why you are afraid of getting all the facts out for all the citizens, specially those that are not as 'informed' as you, so there can be a logical, rather than reactionary, decision made benefiting ALL the citizens. As C. Simpson cogently states (above) "[G]et the facts and make an informed decision based on what is best for the county 'as a whole'."
Laura May 05, 2011 at 12:13 PM
I'm from the White Plains area and have family who still live in Westchester County -- Bedford and Mt. Kisco. (There's more than 1 transplanted "yankee" around here. No surprise there.) Fortunately, my Bedford relatives live far enough away from the airport and out of the flight path to NOT have a problem with everything that goes with it. It was a military air field before it was commercialized. It is surrounded by WATER on 1 whole side. The issue is not how "wonderful" the airport is "for the commuter." The issues are the lack of infrastructure, the huge concentration of residential properties surrounding the airport, the noise pollution, and the traffic congestion that Gwinnett cannnot handle with commercialization...and then there's the issue of taxes. I wonder if the BOC has considered what will happen to the tax base when people start fleeing Gwinnett and moving to neighboring counties. Barrow and Hall are just a stone's throw away. Out of the flight path, away from the tax burden and the noise pollution and the congestion. Don't think it won't happen. It's already started. You can't threaten people with losing their quality of living and not expect them to leave.
Mark May 05, 2011 at 06:12 PM
D.B. Manley Before choosing a home in Lawrenceville 20 years ago I called both the Gwinnett planning board and people at Briscoe as well. The answers I got to the question, "What sort of airport is Briscoe?" were remarkably similar. Both said, "Sir this is just a little country airport. We don't have jets here." As for the popularity of the airport expanding, I have only heard from a few business people who favor sacrificing Lawrenceville and Dacula for the rest of Gwinnett. I have heard from thousands who are opposed.
Mark May 05, 2011 at 06:14 PM
D.B. Manley ...and my comment about "Soviet Russia" was a tongue in cheek analogy to your camparison to citizens voicing their opinion being akin to Nazi Germany
David B. Manley May 06, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Well, Mark, my previous statement stands. As you now know, little airports can expand. I believe our little county airport handles small jets now. My rabble comment was directed to those who believe shouting their point of view will win over calm contemplation. To repeat-- as C. Simpson cogently states (above) "[G]et the facts and make an informed decision based on what is best for the county 'as a whole'."
Sandra Brewer May 07, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Well, again, the board has shown that the meetings to get "opinions" were just a farce! The board is still not trustworthy. There are those of us that think this is a really bad idea. Some of us have lived in the shadow of other airports and know what is coming if privatization and commercialization is approved. Not only will the area deteriorate (and quickly) but the taxpayers will get screwed yet again if we are to pay for the improvements to the local roads to accomodate the additional traffic. And for those of you that are believing the "jobs" word...don't. They will be few and long time coming. So, thank you BOC for proving that this "change" we have heard about will actually be "business as usual" just with new faces.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew May 08, 2011 at 07:30 PM
DB, I concur, let’s get the facts ... but that costs money if done correctly and since teachers are furloughed along with EMS staff, I believe those salaries should be restored before we spend ANY tax dollars on additional studies - otherwise our county staff are indirectly and unfairly paying for this “adventure”. So let’s do this in a uniformly conservative method. Please contact the Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner’s office to set up an account where every resident or business interest that supports additional airport studies can contribute an additional 10 percent of their county tax bill to the project. That in turn will provide both funding and an impartial list of all the county residents and businesses in favor of the program. With the added benefit of any unused funds collected being transferred to the general budget or bond debt retirement. So proponents of more studies, What say you? Remember, there are no laws on any level of local, state or federal operations preventing anyone from paying MORE in taxes than what’s due.

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