Proposed Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport changes rile business owners

December 02, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Proposed revisions to Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport's minimum operating standards and rules and regulations were criticized as infringing upon personal property rights and being anti-business during a public hearing Tuesday.

"You'll get the key to my hangar when you pry it from my cold, dead clammy fingers," said Jay Hurley of Shepherdstown, W.Va., prompting laughs among a standing room-only crowd attending the hearing in the airport's terminal.

Describing some of the proposed rule changes as "asinine," Hurley told three members of the Airport Authority, the airfield's governing board, that he wouldn't be allowed to assemble a plane at the airport that he had been working on off-site for 10 years under the new rules.

Donald Siler of Air Photographics conceded that some of the proposed revisions were good, but others were bad or "ugly" and said he attended the hearing to see when the business would have to relocate. The departure of the business would mean a drop of $6,000 to $12,000 in monthly fuel sales at the airport, Siler said.


John L. Collins, manager of airport policy for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, encouraged those concerned and members of the Airport Authority to work together and reach a reasonable solution, particularly on how businesses that operate "through the fence" at the airport are regulated.

"There are some things that could be tightened up ... loosened up ... (and) there's some things that could be just gotten rid of," said Collins, who said he was opposed to micromanaging policies in the proposed changes.

After hearing about 90 minutes of comments, Airport Authority board Chairman Richard S. "Rick" Wachtel said he knew there were some obvious changes to the draft proposal that needed to be made prior to the hearing.

Tuesday's hearing was moderated by Ronald L. Deck of L. Robert Kimball & Associates.

The consulting firm's work was made possible by a $20,000 grant that the Federal Aviation Administration awarded to the Airport Authority to revamp the minimum operating standards and rules and regulations, which had not been updated in about 40 years, according to Wachtel.

Written comments about the proposed rules must be submitted to the Airport manager's office by 4 p.m. on Dec. 8, but any changes are not expected to be instituted until sometime next year.

"All this started because we were heavily criticized two or three years ago by many people who spoke tonight saying that we had very outdated and archaic (minimum operating standards) and rules and regs," Wachtel said.

"The FAA felt we should update them, too," Wachtel added.

Revisions to the proposed draft will be compiled by a committee of Airport Authority members and the airport manager and submitted to the full board, Wachtel said.

The Airport Authority might decide to have another public hearing.

The proposed revisions to the Minimum Operating Standards and Airport Rules and Regulations can be viewed at the Airport Authority's Web site at

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