BENZIE COUNTY — Frankfort airport could soon be seeing more planes, and with that more money into the economy, if a plan goes through to make it easier for planes to land on their runway.
“This airport has hills all around it… so that’s an issue in this airport and something that has to be looked at,” said Jay Darling, Frankfort Dow Memorial Field Manager.
That’s why local, state and federal officials are tackling the issue that only Mother Nature can control; the weather.
Right now, if a plane lands from the north it may not have enough runway to touch down. That’s because there are trees in the way of the approach, which leaves nearly 900 feet of the runway unusable.
“It doesn’t meet the goals from the state system planning aspect, and currently it doesn’t meet FAA design standards in runway length,” said Linn Smith, Michigan Department of Transportation Airport Zoning and Planning Specialist.
Smith says the goal of the airport layout plan is to address what’s needed to meet the design standards, and work toward meeting state goals for the airport.
Trees near the runway may have to be cut down because the length of the runway limits the size and type of planes that can use the airport, depending on the weather conditions.
The airport manager says there are times when planes are turned away from Frankfort if the wind is too strong.
“What the airport and the state would like to do is use as much as what we have. Safety being the main driving criteria for everything that happens here,” said Darling.
MDOT says the Frankfort airport creates nearly one million dollars’ worth of economic impact to the surrounding community every year. Smith says the planning contract is $156,000 with most of it being paid for with a federal grant.
“This is not an expansion. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make the best use of the airport that we have and the runway that’s already out there.”
Businesses owners in the golf course and restaurant industries are highly encouraged to attend the public hearing on the airport layout plan. Community members are also welcomed to attend.
If you’re not able to make it to the hearing, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s scheduled for Tuesday, July 8th from 4-7 p.m. at the Frankfort Elementary School cafeteria at 613 Leelanau Avenue.