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Airport Advisory Board evaluates expansion proposal

SALISBURY — The Airport Advisory Board met Friday to discuss the possible construction of 10 new T-hangars at Mid-Carolina Regional Airport.

Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce proposed the expansion during a commissioners meeting in November. The airport has a long waiting list, he said, and the advisory board needs to decide how it is going to meet the growing need.

In response, the board met to crunch the numbers, evaluating the cost of construction and return on investment. Would the expansion benefit both the business community and Rowan County taxpayers at large?

Airport Director Kevin Davis worked to verify that the waiting list was accurate. He also acquired more information about possible crafts that would fill the developed slots.

In the end, the decision to move forward with construction was tabled as officials pursue other more versatile and potentially lucrative alternatives.

Ten new T-hangars would cost just over $1.8 million, according to estimates prepared by Talbert, Bright and Ellington.

Revenue from rent, calculated at an average of $300 per hangar per month, and tax income based on $1 million worth of property would lead to just $42,625 in revenue annually.

At that rate, it would take just over 42 years to recoup the cost.

The use of an average rent and $1 million in stored property led to much discussion among board members.

Davis said that individuals on the vetted waiting list had been quoted that price.

Randy Baker said the proposed numbers are “absolutely best-case scenario.”

“I wouldn’t have been on a waiting list for $300,” he said.

Another concern of Airport Advisory Board members was the effects the construction could have on potential business development on airport property.

“We have multiple individuals and companies and groups that are interested in working with the airport, potentially bringing business to the airport,” said Davis.

Davis said the larger hangar construction could affect two of the possible business ventures. Federal aviation regulations require a certain distance between tall structures and runways, leaving the proposed project with a large footprint.

After much discussion, Davis proposed an alternative: build a community hangar at a different site, leaving room for business development.

“That real estate has value … , ” he said. “By reducing this amount, we may restrict the growth of other companies that are looking to you because of that footprint that is there.”

“We’ve got to balance this thing,” Baker said. “We’ve got to look out for the average taxpayer, not just 10 individuals that want an airplane in a hangar.”

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