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Board wants to lower cost of airport hangar

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Commissioners say they’ll consider building a community hangar at the Rowan County Airport, but they want to bring down its $1.7 million price tag.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners agreed Monday to wait until its next meeting before deciding whether to approve the project.
In November, the board voted to move forward with plans for a 15,000-square-foot aircraft storage hangar at the Rowan County Airport. Talbert and Bright presented its design and cost estimate to county commissioners at Monday’s meeting.
The hangar could bring the county an estimated $33,350 per year in new revenue, said Airport Director Thad Howell. It would be the largest at the airport and could fit a corporate jet.
The building would be used as a community hangar and house monthly tenants, with a vacant spot available for pilots seeking shelter from inclement weather. If a company is interested in basing its aircraft there full-time, it could be converted into a corporate hangar.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain asked what kind of interest the airport has gotten in a new hangar.
Howell said he gets about 15 requests a year from people wanting hangar space, and a few have asked about larger aircraft, but he can’t really promote a project that isn’t confirmed. At least one business client has shown some interest in making the Rowan airport its permanent location, he said.
The total price of the project would be nearly $1.7 million, including about $1 million for the hangar construction, about $192,000 for the site construction and $200,000 for entrance road and utilities construction. It also includes $250,000 in estimated engineering, design, testing, surveying, inspection and other miscellaneous costs.
Commissioner Jim Sides said he thinks the hangar will pay for itself with a corporate client fairly quickly, but he doesn’t like the way those costs have piled up.
“In conversations I had with the committee, I said if you bring anything more than $1 million to the commissioners, it’s not going to fly,” Sides said. “I would love to see it built, but I’m concerned about the price tag.”
If the county relies on loans to fund the project, it would pay about $170,000 annually in debt service, said Chairman Chad Mitchell.
Vice Chairman Carl Ford said the county could get more money from the state to pay for its airport runway expansion if it proves that economic development is taking place there.
“I think this is important for economic development in the county, and I think it will pay for itself, unlike some other projects we’ve recently approved,” Ford said. “I am concerned about the high cost, and I’d like to see that cost get back to the $1 million range.”
Commissioner Jon Barber said he would feel a lot more comfortable approving the hangar if the county had letters of intent from people who have a serious interest in using it.
“The county manager is going to be delivering to us shortly his proposed budget,” Barber said. “In that budget, there are no recommended dollars for a community hangar. … There’s a lot of other needs – community needs – that this county has.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics

In other business
Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Delayed consideration of a modified incentive agreement for Henkel Corp. until the next board meeting. Commissioner Jim Sides said he wants to meet with RowanWorks Director Robert Van Geons about the request.
Henkel has nearly completed its initial expansion at its Salisbury plant, and the company is asking for additional incentives for a separate expansion project. The new project would bring the total investment from $25 million to $35 million, and the total number of new jobs created by June 30, 2013, from 103 to 119.
• Instructed County Manager Gary Page to begin interviews with candidates for the county tax administrator position. Jerry Rowland, the current tax administrator, plans to retire June 30.
• Approved a resolution supporting the establishment of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions to operate as a managed care organization in 15 counties, including Rowan.
Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare (PBH), which serves Rowan, Cabarrus, Davidson, Stanly and Union counties, is consolidating with three other existing area organizations. These agencies manage public funding for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance abuse services.
The resolution creates five community oversight boards, including one for the five-county PBH service area, to replace the existing governance structure. It also creates a governing board to oversee the entire organization.
• Asked staff to look into the possibility of implementing the National Association of Counties’ dental discount program.
• Approved new names of Pacific Drive for a road south off the 2500 block of South River Church Road, High Fields Drive for a road off the 1600 block (incorrectly listed as the 1900 block) of Sloan Road and California Drive for a road west off the 400 block of Joe Rankin Road.
• Declined a proposed new name of Amberjack Drive for a road east off the 1800 block of Emanuel Church Road. Property owners objected to the change, saying the three structures on that driveway have had the same addresses for 20 years.
• Declined a proposed address change from 101 A. Bare St. to 501 Carter St. Planning staff said the existing address is not recognized by the county and does not meet the criteria set by the county’s road naming ordinance.
The property owner, Anthony Bare, said he thought the driveway had been named through proper procedure in 1991. The board agreed to make an exception for him.
• Approved a modified request to rezone 2.5 acres at 280 Sassy Lane from commercial, business and industrial to rural agricultural. The parcel is part of a 6.4-acre property owned by Terry E. Hyde and Tim Eddleman.
The owners originally asked to rezone 3.15 acres, but the board followed a recommendation by planning staff not to change the zoning around a telecommunications tower on the property.
• Approved a resolution supporting the Elections Boards Association of North Carolina maintenance of effort requirement for the release of Help America Vote Act Funds.
• Set a public hearing for the fiscal year 2012-13 budget on June 4 at 5:30 p.m. The board will hold its regular meeting at 3 p.m. that day as scheduled.
• Set a budget work session on June 11 at 3 p.m.

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