Airport hangar plans up for review

OXFORD -- Plans for an 185,000-square-foot hangar at Waterbury-Oxford Airport will be up for review next month by the town's Inland Wetlands Agency. Keystone Aviation Services of Newington plans to build the box hangar on about 55 acres on the airport's southern end. Before anything is built, however, the IWA will hear from residents at a Nov. 19 public hearing. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

Matthew Kelly, manager of the airport, said the plan had to be approved by the state Department of Transportation because the hangar would become state property at the end of a lease with the airport. The project would include depositing 250,000 cubic yards of material at the construction site, which will also include office space, a new tarmac and a taxiway to the new hangar. Kelly said he did not know how many jets would use the hangar. According to a letter from John Whitcomb, a project manager for architect BL Cos., the hangar would fill in about 2,700 square feet of wetlands, though about 3,000 square feet could be enhanced as part of the project.

"With the height and the slopes to fill in, it may encroach on the wetlands," Kelly said. David Blackburn, an official with Keystone Aviation, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Kelly supports the hangar project because it will bring about 400 jobs to the Oxford area, which he said should add to the tax base. "It's a good project and very good for the airport," Kelly said. "It's with the added businesses that come into the area. Now you've got families that are coming in who are buying homes."

Residents living near the airport have recently complained about the noise from arriving and departing flights. The DOT is considering updates to the airport's master plan that include possibly purchasing homes in Middlebury.

But Kelly said the new hangar is within the airport's master plan. "With all the development that way, it falls in with the growth scenario," Kelly said.

Melvin Mason, who covers the Naugatuck Valley, can be reached at 736-5440.