Sunday, October 24, 2010

Is PDK Airport up for an expansion of allowing larger aircraft? DeKalb BOC votes Tuesday and PDK Watch wants your involvement.

PDK Expansion of allowing Larger Aircraft?
I received the following message about possible PDK Airport expansion from the PDK Watch group asking that I forward the information. I am happy to do so even though I am not up on the specific details but maybe our DeKalb representative Ms. Kathie Gannon will fill us in on the details? 


Dear Community Leaders,

I am taking the liberty of sending you a very time-sensitive ACTION ALERT about an upcoming vote on Tuesday morning by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners that could expand size of jets allowed to use PDK Airport.  If this is a concern to you or to others in your neighborhood associations, I would welcome your sharing this information to your e-mail lists or otherwise circulating as widely as you can.

My apologies for the lateness of this message. Not until early Saturday afternoon did I become aware that our efforts to work with the Board of Commissioners to amend the  proposed 2010 PDK Airport Layout Plan had apparently reached a dead end.

Thank you for your consideration considering this information and making it as widely available as possible to concerned community members.

Larry Foster
Communications Director
PDK Watch Inc.  on behalf of Open DeKalb Inc.

October 24, 2010
Dear Citizens Concerned about PDK Airport Expansion,

Your help is urgently needed to try to avoid approval of a document that--if not amended--could be used to support significant expansion of PDK Airport.  I've indicated below what the problem is, why it is important, and what you can do to help.

In brief, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners is set to vote on Tuesday, October 26, on the proposed 2010 PDK Airport Layout Plan, which incorrectly claims the weight-bearing capacity of the main runway is 75,000 rather than the currently-indicated 66,000 lbs.  If the Airport Layout Plan is not amended back to 66,000 lbs., the size of the jets allowed to use PDK would increase. To convince the Commissioners to support this important amendment, your brief e-mail messages to the Commissioners within the next two days are crucial (see full details below).


Since Spring 2010, a proposed new 2010 PDK Airport Layout Plan (ALP) has been under consideration.  The PDK Airport Administration--now led by PDK Airport's Acting Director Mike Van Wie--has stated that the the proposed 2010 ALP merely "describes" the state of PDK Airport at this time--that it is not a projection for future PDK development and expansion. Yet a crucial change has been unobtrusively slipped into this 200-page document that would, in fact, support further PDK Airport expansion.  A final vote on the proposed 2010 ALP is scheduled at the DeKalb Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday morning, October 26, 2010, just two days from now.

The key change in the proposed 2010 ALP that we feel must be amended, indicates that the weight-bearing capacity PDK  Airport's main runway has an engineered capacity of 75,000 lbs., rather than the 66,000 lbs. that previous ALP's have indicated.  A careful engineering assessment of the proposed change by a professional structural engineer who designs airport runways indicates that there is no engineering basis that can justify such a change and that saying that the runway is engineered to a 75,000 lb. capacity would be "fraudulent."

Since late spring, board members from Open DeKalb Inc., including Norma Herd, Susan Gouinlock, and myself, have been addressing these issues with the Board of Commissioners and--with the aid of Commissioners Jeff Rader, Connie Stokes, and Elaine Boyer--we have attempted to get the proposed 2010 ALP amended so that it accurately describes the weight-bearing capacity of the main runway as 66,000 lbs.  

As a result of these efforts, a vote on the ALP has been deferred three times during the past three months  The vote on the ALP this Tuesday, however, will be the final one.  At the very end of this past week, we heard the bad news from Commissioner Rader that he does not believe he has the necessary votes to amend the ALP.  The other key commissioner who represents our area, Kathie Gannon, is expected to support describing the main runway as 75,000 lbs.--even though the runway is not engineered to that capacity--and a majority of the Commissioners are expected to follow her lead.

For the Board of Commissioners to vote for a document incorrectly indicating that the engineered weight-bearing capacity of PDK Airport's main runway is 75,000 rather than 66,000 lbs. would, in effect, be to approve a major policy change authorizing the expansion of PDK Airport without a full and open discussion of the crucial issues involved. To take such action would undercut recent efforts by concerned community members during the past year to work out more mutually advantageous arrangements between the PDK Airport and concerned community members.  Such an action might also derail the ongoing negotiations with the highest levels of DeKalb County government to seek an approach other than legal action to try to resolve community disagreements with PDK Airport actions.


The most immediate need is for concerned citizens to send an outpouring of brief e-mail messages today and tomorrow the to all the members of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, urging them to amend the proposed 2010 PDK Airport Layout Plan back to the existing 66,000 lb. engineered weight limit.  

Your messages should include just a few brief sentences identifying yourself and expressing your concern politely.   

Each message must be directed to an individual commissioner (see names and e-mail addresses below), since messages to all the commissioners are blocked by anti-spamming devices.  

Many messages, not lengthy or argumentative ones, are likely to be most effective.  Some of the commissioners evidently do not believe that more than a handful of individuals are concerned about PDK Airport noise and operations.  Please let them know that is not the case.

Here are the names and e-mail addresses of the DeKalb County commissioners, in order of their districts.  Please send your messages NOW:

1.  Elaine Boyer
2.  Jeff Rader
3.  Larry Johnson
4.  Sharon Barnes Sutton
5.  Lee May
6.  Kathie Gannon
7.  Connie Stokes

Please write NOW, and also further circulate this message to your friends and neighbors.   We face an uphill battle at this point, but if you don't act, we can't be successful.

Thanks for your attention to this important message, and, hopefully, for your prompt action.

Larry Foster
Communications Director
PDK Watch Inc. on behalf of Open DeKalb Inc.

P.S.  If anyone would like to attend the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, October 26, to personally show your concern, here is the information you will need.  Note that what is most needed at this time, however, is your e-mail messages to the commissioners.

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meets at the Maloof Auditorium 1300 Commerce Drive in Decatur.  Street parking is cheapest, requiring numerous quarters, or you can park in the high-rise parking across the street for a flat $6 fee (up from $2 previously).

The Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m.  During that first hour there is a half-hour public comment period, at which several of us will attempt to address the problems with the ALP.  The meeting proper is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., and the PDK Airport Layout Plan is at the top of the agenda, so even given a worst-case scenario, the vote will have been taken  by 10:30 a.m. or so.

Let me emphasize, however, that your immediate e-mail messages to the commissioners is what is most needed right now.

In case anyone would like to read a more detailed summary of the arguments, I have attached a more detailed discussion of the issue here for your reference


Bob said...

This is not about expansionper say but about a change in weight bearing capacity of the runway.
There are NO offiial documents from the County that have ever been produced that the runway capcity of PDK is more than 66,000 pounds.
Approval of this change in the airport plan is a backdoor effort to sneek in an official reference to the higher weight .

Ben said...

It would be helpful to know what the 66,000 pound number refers to. I can't believe that it refers to the total weight of the plane, as there are many planes landing and taking off from PDK each day in excess of 66,000 pounds. Is it a per axle or per tire weight?

Please provide some examples of planes that would be allowed to land under the increase that currently can not. In my mind the size of the plane has little to nothing to do with the nuisance of the airport. Some of the loudest planes are the small old Learjets dating back to the 70s.

John Heneghan said...

I personally e-mailed Commissioner Kathie Gannon and she replied stating that she will be looking to defer this issue on Tuesday in order to obtain more information.

I am guessing that there are a number of historical memos and documents from the Levetan Administration that the current DeKalb attorneys need to fully vet before this vote takes place and I am confident that Ms. Gannon will do the proper research in talking to those attorneys before voting on this matter.

Mr. Larry Foster of PDK Watch and Open DeKalb also wanted me to post this...

Dear Citizens Concerned about PDK Airport Expansion:

Congratulations! In response to your massive outpouring of e-mail messages and calls in just a single day, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has apparently decided to defer a vote on the controversial 2010 PDK Airport Layout Plan for thirty more days (this will be their fourth deferral of the vote).

Your messages have made all the difference! There's nothing like getting a barrage of e-mail messages and calls in just one day to convince the commissioners that the public really does care about PDK Airport noise and expansion. Thanks so much for your outstanding response to our emergency alert.

If you haven't yet written or called your commissioners, please do so NOW. If you can't do so before tomorrow and if the vote on the ALP is deferred (as we have been led to believe), that will also give you more time to let your commissioners know how you feel about larger aircraft operations at PDK.

The fact that the PDK Administration has been fighting so hard to slip two seemingly small changes into its 200+ page Airport Layout Plan suggests how important getting those expansion changes must be to them, as well as how important retaining the present accurate designations of those two items is to the future of our neighborhoods.

The only two changes we have been insisting upon in the 2010 ALP is that it continue to accurately indicate, as it has in the past three ALP's: (1) that the engineered weight capacity of the main PDK Airport runway is 66,000 lbs. (not 75,000), and (2) that the "target aircraft" for future planning at PDK remains the Gulfstream II (as indicated in previous ALP's), rather than a Gulfstream III that weighs more than the engineered weight capacity of the main runway. If those two changes had been made in the ALP, it could have been approved three months ago.

An informed public is a powerful public. We will let you know what the Board of Commissioners does tomorrow on this issue, and how you can continue to help us. The fight is far from over, but thanks so much for helping win this round.

Larry Foster
Board Member, Open DeKalb Inc.