Forum allows citizens to voice concerns about airport's future

Forum allows citizens to voice concerns about airport's future


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

Posted on April 17, 2013 at 12:43 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 17 at 1:01 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Almost everyone who stood at the podium during Tuesday night's Charlotte airport governance hearing expressed a desire that the city maintain control of Charlotte Douglas Airport.

"My background is maintenance, and we have a motto: If it is not broken, don't fix it,” said Alan Shaw.

The city has received about a dozen comments online but 11 citizens signed up to speak at the first public input meeting held at the government center.

Consultant Robert Hazel, with the Oliver Wyman Firm, was on hand.  The city hired his firm to conduct an unbiased independent study in response to legislation that called for the creation of a 13-member regional airport authority.

"The thing that concerns me is that it looks like a rush of judgment to me,” said Hazel.

The state Senate has already passed the measure to give control to the regional authority.  The House opted to wait on the vote until the study is finished May 1.

"We do not need to change a successful enterprise,” said Nancy Wiggins.

David Erman called it “outrageous” that only two members on the proposed regional board would be from Charlotte.

"So the most basic rule of democracy is no taxation without representation.  But what we are doing is turning that on its head, and giving representation to those with no taxation,” he said.

Justin Stewart said simply, “What’s the point?  For a lack of a better term, I smell a rat.”

He is among citizens who believe a regional authority will unnecessarily add another layer of bureaucracy.

Airport administrator Jerry Orr sat in the back Tuesday night, listening to the voices of support echoed from one citizen to another.

"I'm going to stay quiet," said Orr, when asked about his thoughts on the meeting.

Carey Head owns a lakefront house near the airport.  He saw the meeting more as a formality and believes legislators may already have their minds made up.  He decided to speak up anyway, wanting his concerns on record.

“I know the airport will grow and expand and our expectation however was when it came time to deal with the airport, we would be dealing with Charlotte’s airport and as citizens of the city we would have direct recourse to elected officials and through the power of the ballot-box and be able to have recourse when we are unhappy with what is going on,” he said.

Citizens comments will be accepted online until April 22 through the city’s website.