Green Airport officials rethink plans for hangar


Nov. 18--WARWICK -- State airport officials on Wednesday looked for their next step in building a corporate aviation hangar at T.F. Green Airport after the City Council voted down a zoning change needed for the hangar to be built privately on airport-owned land.

That ownership arrangement would have allowed the city to collect property taxes on the $5-million building, roughly $130,000 a year, according to Kevin A. Dillon, president of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, the state agency that operates Green and several smaller state-owned airports.

Now, the airport will look to build the hangar itself, which, as a state agency, does not require city zoning approval, he said. But, the city would also give up the property-tax money because state-owned real estate cannot be taxed.

The council voted down the proposed zone change, 8 to 0, according to the City Clerk's office.

The land in question sits between the airport's maintenance building and fire department on the far side of the airfield from the main passenger terminal, which is on Post Road. The airport acquired the land as part of a noise-mitigation program that bought out homeowners within certain "noise contours," lines marking areas with airport-related noise above certain levels. Houses were bought out in the area of Rowe Avenue and Cedar Swamp Road, though many houses farther from the airport remain.

Dillon said the airport might build the hangar on the same land the City Council rejected. "We're not going to rule out any development for that site."

But, he said, the airport would probably accede to the city's apparent desire have the hangar elsewhere. "We're going to step back and look at all of the areas on the airport."

One possibility involves ball fields that are slated to be relocated as part of a runway-extension project that has received preliminary federal approval. Officials currently plan to move the fields from the southwest end of the airport's main runway to airport-owned land in the area of Strawberry Field Road between Post Road and the end of the runway.

The two projects could be swapped, Dillon said, with the hangar going on the Strawberry Field Road land and the ball fields going on the Rowe Avenue land.

The Airport Corporation board met in closed session Wednesday afternoon to discuss, among other topics, how to proceed on the hangar project.

Dillon said he thought the Rowe Avenue location would be a good fit for the corporate aviation hangar, which would be built by a corporation that Dillon declined to identify.

Currently, three corporations -- Textron, Providence Equity Partners and CVS -- maintain hangars at the airport, though several others fly out of Northstar Aviation facilities. Dillon declined to say whether it was any of those companies or a corporation looking to relocate to the state that would have bankrolled the new hangar.

Dillon said corporate aviation tends to have very little impact at Green. One corporate flight operation, which he would not identify, operates 26 flights on a peak week, averaging 14, and sometimes having no flights in a given week.

Dillon said the hangar facility would, to a limited degree, block jet noise that now has an unimpeded path to the Rowe Avenue neighborhood. The hangar, along with an earthen berm and landscaping, would screen the neighborhood from the main runway.