New regulations aim to help business grow at airport
By Josh Bergeron
SALISBURY — With a couple dozen pages of policy, the Rowan County Airport hopes to cement past practices and make it easy for businesses to open up shop.
The airport advisory board on Friday unanimously passed a 55-page-long set of minimum standards that sets guidelines for things such as building and hangar design. Airport Board Chairman Addison Davis said the guidelines will simplify the process for new businesses to locate at the Rowan County Airport.
“The reality is that previously if a new business wanted to come the (airport) board would have to convene, make decisions, talk about information they provide,” Davis said. “Today, we can hand them these minimum standards and say ‘this is the way operate, and if you have any questions give me a call.'”
Friday’s approval comes after months of work by the airport board. The minimum standards will now be forwarded to County Attorney Jay Dees before being considered by Rowan County commissioners.
“This is going to help us become competitive in the aviation marketplace, and that’s important,” Davis said. “We’ll become competitive in the aviation marketplace by ensuring that we operating at the level that our competitors are.”
Rowan County Airport Director Thad Howell said the last set of minimum standards were passed in 2003. Howell said minimum standards are an important tool for airports and are strongly encouraged by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Davis said the previous standards were thin, and practices sometimes didn’t match up with written policies.
A few examples of the measures contained in the minimum standards include: Rowan County can be the only entity that sells fuel at the airport; prospective businesses at the airport must provide a statement of fiscal responsibility to the airport; all areas leased at the airport shall also provide parking; the maximum term of leases cannot exceed 20 years; flying clubs based at the airport cannot conduct flight instruction at the airport unless it’s for regular members and a bevy of other items.
County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds, who attended Friday’s airport board meeting, said he hopes the new minimum standards will help the Rowan County Airport add new private businesses.
For commissioners, the airport has become a targeted spot for economic development. Commissioners recently already approved construction of an approximately $2 million, 15,000-foot corporate hangar and plan to foot the cost of construction with a loan. Edds has said the tax revenue from airplanes can quickly repay the loan and the planes generate tax revenue without requiring services such as schools.
Next up, the Rowan County Airport Board will generate a set of basic rules and regulations. As an example of a rule, Davis said the board would determine how fast airplanes can move taxi — moving before takeoff or after landing.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.
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