City's Land Needed for Paulding Airport

June 28, 2007

An airport being built in Paulding County will have a much shorter runway if Atlanta declines to sell Paulding some land Atlanta owns in the suburban county.

Paulding started building its general aviation airport in June 2006 and needs 163 acres of the city's property to accommodate the runway and provide a buffer zone, said Blake Swafford, the airport's director. Asked Wednesday what would happen if the city doesn't sell the land for the airport, Swafford responded: "It will have a shorter runway."

Atlanta will sell its property if the City Council approves at its July 2 meeting a recommendation made Wednesday by one of its committees. The council's Finance Committee voted in favor of the proposal to sell the 163 acres to Paulding at its appraised price of $815,000. That's about $5,000 an acre.

The city owns 10,000-acre sites in Paulding and Dawson counties that it purchased three decades ago as possible sites for a new airport. However, both sites now are considered unlikely candidates and likely would be traded or sold if a second airport is ever built.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded the city a $1 million grant to study ways to increase commercial air capacity in the Atlanta area, a move that could lay the groundwork for a second airport two decades or so down the road.

Paulding County, meanwhile, is moving ahead with its plans to build a 1,000-acre airport and business park to stimulate economic development in that area. The county recently got a $5 million grant from Congress for the project.

County officials have said they would like to have the airport, with a 5,000-foot runway, open by the end of next year. Total cost of that project is estimated at $45 million, with the federal government covering 95 percent of the cost and the state and county picking up the remainder.

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