Myth: The Paulding County Board of Commissioners dealt in secret to push this airport deal through.
Fact: The deal to bring commercial air travel and other services to Paulding followed the standard process for these types of business developments. Many aspects of the development process were discussed openly at public meetings of the Paulding County Airport Authority over the past year. These
meetings were attended by members of the community and, occasionally, the local media.
The reality is that an opportunity for economic growth such as this is extremely rare. When Silver Comet Terminal Partners approached the Paulding County Airport Authority regarding the prospect of bringing
commercial and other business to Silver Comet Field, the authority pursued the opportunity expediently so that it wouldn’t lose out to competitors.
Myth: The Paulding County Airport Authority violated The Georgia Open Meetings Act.
Fact: The development of the airport to incorporate commercial air travel and other opportunities followed a normal development process common to all airports in the country. All meetings regarding the Silver Comet Field proposal were held in compliance with the Georgia Open Meetings Act. This
includes votes on various aspects of the development at a number of public Airport Authority meetings from October 2012 to now.
The aspects voted on included approvals to market the airport to commercial and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) companies, as well as approvals to pay for projects, such as the taxiway widening and extension. All of these contracts were openly discussed and voted on at meetings, and no concerns were raised until September 2013.
Residents should also keep in mind that the development of Silver Comet Field is not a new concept. Back in 2007, Paulding County received the “Excellence in Economic Development” Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, beating out New York City and Birmingham, Ala. That plan included the creation of aerospace industry jobs centered on the development of the airport.
Myth: This airport expansion will decrease the quality of life for Paulding County residents.
Fact: There’s no doubt that Paulding County offers a wonderful quality of life, and this is one of the primary reasons why it has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. The plan to bring limited commercial airline service to and other business to the airport will have a positive, not a
negative, impact on the quality of life for Paulding residents. Current projections estimate that the airport will create 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs and $350 million for the local economy. These estimates include jobs from commercial airline service and jobs from MRO developments. Silver Comet Terminal Partners has extensive experience recruiting aerospace and
aviation companies to airports across the country.
These are quality jobs that will enable more residents to work in their own county. Currently, nearly 75 percent of Paulding County’s working residents travel outside the county to get to work. Local business developments such as this will also help reduce commute times for Paulding residents, nearly a third of whom spend at least an hour and a half driving to and from work every day.
Myth: This airport will grow into another Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Fact: Expanding Silver Comet Field is not part of any of the development plans. Due to its location, expanding the airport’s runway is financially prohibitive. Furthermore, topographical limitations at the location, along with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and restrictions, make building a second runway at Silver Comet Field highly unlikely.
Comparing Silver Comet Field to Hartsfield-Jackson is like comparing a little league lot to Turner Field.
Projections for early 2014 are to handle two or three commercial flights a week, in addition to the current volume of small planes (approximately 15 flights a day). In the future, the airport may hold volume for two or three commercial flights a day. It will not be large enough to accommodate any wide-body jets. In addition, it has a 20,000 square foot terminal with enough space for probably one security checkpoint and one commercial gate.
Silver Comet Field’s goal is not to become another Hartsfield-Jackson, but to provide families with an affordable, less hectic option for air travel in metro Atlanta. Most airlines that work with airports this size operate on a point-to-point system and specialize in low-cost, direct flights to tourist destinations.
This is the type of service the airport is working to attract.
Myth: The noise pollution from the airport will have a dramatic negative effect on Paulding County residents.
Fact: As mentioned, Silver Comet Field is not expected to host more than a few commercial flights a day, and only a few flights a week to start. In addition, current standards for commercial aircraft make them very quiet. In fact, a Boeing 757 generates about the same amount of noise as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and this airport won’t even be able to handle aircraft that large.
Some groups have occasionally cited a study conducted at London’s Heathrow airport regarding the negative effects of living near an airport. This is a poor source of comparison for citizens concerned about noise and their health for a few reasons:
• Heathrow is one of the world’s largest airports – that means those in the flight path are subject to noise from thousands of flights a day involving the largest passenger jets, not a few flights a day.
• The worst results from that study are connected to aircraft noise during the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., and planes at Silver Comet Field will be on the ground at those times.
Myth: The airport will cause traffic congestion issues.
Fact: The airport is located directly on U.S. 278, which is a four-lane road that provides direct access to I-20. The stretch of road in the areas around the airport is currently underutilized and has little traffic. Projections right now anticipate an increase of 100 to 200 cars a day from the expansion, which surrounding roads can easily handle.
Myth: The airport will have a dramatic negative effect on the environment.
Fact: Concerns about environmental effects are unwarranted. During its inception, all plans for construction of the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport (now Silver Comet Field) underwent an extensive study that projected minimal environmental impacts. The construction of the airport and all subsequent plans for development have been approved by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
Currently, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is reviewing the request for a certificate to conduct airline operations at Silver Comet Field, and will also determine if there are any environmental consequences of the planned expansion. Residents in the neighboring communities should also know
that the large amount of acreage surrounding Silver Comet Field creates a buffer zone between the airport and much of Paulding County’s residential development. Commercial service will not increase the footprint of the airport. The wildlife management area will not be impacted or changed by this service.
Myth: The Paulding County Airport Authority told residents it would never allow commercial airlines.
Fact: The Airport Authority made no such statement. It is true that initial plans for the use of the airport did not include commercial air travel, and instead focused on developing it as a center for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) work. However, no usage plans were ruled out. Due to a variety of developments in the following years, the Airport Authority determined that commercial travel was also a realistic possibility, and decided to pursue development to accommodate both commercial and MRO
Myth: Taxpayers in Paulding County will be responsible for financing airport development.
Fact: Silver Comet Terminal Partners will cover the bond repayments, per the agreement signed in October 2013. Paulding County, in addition, will seek FAA reimbursement of the taxiway expense, which could amount to as much as 90 percent of the total cost. If, for whatever reason, that expense is not reimbursed by the FAA, Silver Comet Terminal Partners will continue to make payments. It is highly unlikely that the cost would shift to Paulding taxpayers.
Myth: Paulding County residents voted against the creation of an airport in 1998.
Fact: This story has been taken out of context. Paulding residents did not vote against the airport, but rather against issuing bonds to purchase the land for the airport.
In 1998, there was a vote to issue bonds to buy the property to build the airport, and on the same ballot there was a vote to issue bonds to buy property to build a reservoir. At the time, Paulding was having severe water problems, and the bond for the reservoir property passed, while the bond for airport property was voted down. The county did purchase the property for the reservoir, but it has not been constructed due to a variety of issues with environmental permitting.
Five years after the vote, the Paulding County Industrial Building Authority, which exists to invest in economic development projects that will help the county, paid to purchase the property for the airport.
There was no public approval needed for this investment, and the FAA reimbursed the county for 90 percent of the cost to acquire the property and construct the airport, giving residents a major economic development opportunity at almost no cost to local taxpayers.
Myth: The development of the airport will have a negative impact on Paulding County residents.
Fact: The development of Silver Comet Field will have a decidedly positive impact on local residents. It will create new jobs close to home and give local families access to quick and affordable air travel. At the same time, this is a modest expansion that will not upset the quality of life Paulding County residents have come to love. This is a county where nearly 8,000 acres have been set aside for hunting, fishing and wildlife preservation. A wider taxiway and a few commercial airplanes and will not change that.