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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monett airport expansion subject of hearing

Friday, October 14, 2011

A public hearing on what environmental impact the proposed expansion project at Monett Municipal Airport might have on the surrounding landscape was held Tuesday night with several area residents in attendance.

Mike Waller, aviation project manager and planner for the engineering firm of Bucher, Willis and Ratliff (BWR), a Kansas City-based firm, was in attendance to answer questions concerning the project.

Waller was joined by Liz McVay, an environmental practices specialist, in addressing questions on the proposed project.

The plan calls for the expansion of the facility's footprint to add a 6,000-foot runway and accompanying safety zones. The current runway, which does not meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, will become the airport's taxiway.

With the addition of the new runway, the proposed expansion will be able to accommodate 38,500 annual operations.

McVay spoke briefly about the environmental aspect project.

"The expansion should not include an environmental impact to the surrounding area," McVay said. "We are dealing with a topography that includes floodplains, sinkholes, rocky surfaces and losing streams.

"We are looking at four endangered species," McVay continued. "The Ozark Cavefish, the gray bat, the Great prairie Chicken and the Arkansas darter. The fact that they are in this area is an indicator of water quality.

"We want to make sure the action has a minimum impact to the area," she said.

McVay said during the design and construction phases, best practices protocols would be followed to ensure there is no silt or runoff to impact the area's water quality. That will require the use of barrier fencing to contain soil that is disturbed in the building process.

Discussion then turned to property acquisition.

Ed Bartkoski, one of the rural residents whose property will be impacted by the expansion, questioned why the project now called for an entire parcel of land rather then the previously requested 400 feet.

"The FAA considers the remaining property to be damaged remnants," Waller said. "They require we go ahead and buy the property for its highest and best use. Federal regulations require that the city offer fair market value for the land."

The 390 acres of property in question would require the relocation of six residents, primarily to establish the aircraft safety zone. Although the land will not be paved over, no buildings or other structures can be located on those safety zones. The property can continue to be used for agricultural purposes.

Attorney David Cole, of Ellis, Cupps and Cole in Cassville, appeared on behalf of his clients, who had had ongoing problems with storm water run-off accumulating on their property since the previous airport expansion project in 2005.

"They have had problems with storm water on their property for over five years," Cole said. "The concern is whether this is going to increase the problem or decrease it."

McVay said the construction crew would be expected to use best practices and the project would be checked daily to ensure those practices were being met.

"We can't allow sedimentation and erosion beyond the safety area," McVay said. "The intent is to reduce erosion and run-off. The contractors will have to fix those issues."

Also questioned was the closing of Farm Road 2025.

"Public roads are not allowed to transect the aircraft safety area," Waller said. "The road will be realigned to the south.

"It's a disruption, and we know there will be an impact," Waller said. "Farm Road 2025 is a gravel road with low traffic counts. It will not take a long time to correct and realign that road."

Although Waller said the airport will be classified as a "regional airport," there would be no commercial flights coming into or going out of Monett.

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