FAA seeks land for runway zone

Published 9:19 am Saturday, May 9, 2009

FRANKLIN—The Federal Aviation Administration has found that there would be no significant environmental impact over a proposal to acquire, in fee simple, about 10 acres of land for the runway protection zone at Franklin Municipal Airport.

Under the proposal, the FAA would acquire for the city-run airport a total of 10.08 acres located directly east of the airport and along U.S. Route 258.

Most of the land that would be acquired is cow pasture, but a single-story house located at 32243 Walters Highway may lie in the zone as well.

The occupant, listed on survey records as Ellen Lesoine, would need to relocate if further surveying next year confirms that her house lies in the zone and would need to be demolished.

Attempts to reach Lesoine by telephone were unsuccessful, and no one answered the door at her home.

FAA design standards require the airport control the runway protection zone as a safety measure for aircraft using the main runway, No. 9-27, which is 5,000 feet in length.

Seven parcels would be affected by the proposal – 9.84 acres of a farm owned by Alfred Marshall Jr., and about 0.963 acres of residential property spread across six parcels, including the whole of Lesoine’s land.

“The FAA says that we now have to have fee simple ownership of the runway protection zone,” said airport Manager Jimmy Gray. “Prior to this we just had an easement.”

Less than a dozen trees will also need to be cut down, and overhead power lines will need to be moved underground by Franklin Municipal Power & Light.

According to the FAA, the runway protection zone “is intended to be clear of any obstacles so that if an aircraft should land short or abort a takeoff, there is a clear area of impact to minimize damage and loss of life.”

The FAA also said the proposal would “not have any effect on increasing the size and type of aircraft utilizing the Franklin Municipal Airport.”

Gray said a final survey of the property would occur sometime next year, with property acquisition to follow. He said it was possible that the farmland in the runway protection zone could continue to be used as cow pasture.

In a separate project, officials announced March 27 that the airport would receive $2.56 million in federal stimulus money to rehabilitate Runway No. 9-27.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built the airport, a project during the Great Depression, in the early 1930s. It was home to hundreds of U.S. Navy planes during World War II, and was deeded to the city after the war. The airport is primarily used for business flights, but the Navy also uses it for helicopter practice landings and take-offs. About 28 planes are housed in hangars at the airport.