Protecting Airport is Vital to Future Economy of County
January 16, 2015
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  • The Charles County Chamber of Commerce is in full support of a smart, sensible land use plan that will allow Maryland Airport to thrive [“County effort to develop Md. Airport upside takes off,” Maryland Independent, Jan. 9] and help foster much-needed economic development on the western side of the county.

    A sensible land use plan for the airport has long received broad, bipartisan support in the county since 1945 — when Charles Bauserman, his neighbors and members of St. John’s Church petitioned the state to designate it as a flight school and airport.

    It is a vital part of Charles County’s past, present and future. Emergency responders, the Civil Air Patrol, our local schools, veterans organizations and community organizations such as Pilots-n-Paws and Patient Air Lift all find the welcome mat out at the Maryland Airport, the only airport in Charles County. For decades, county officials have recognized the importance of the airport, socially and economically, to our community.

    Today, sensible, smart planning is needed to ensure that the airport will continue to thrive for the benefit of us all. Toward that end, the land use plan/study that is the subject of the hearing was requested to protect the airport from encroachment from incompatible uses (including its airspace), such as intense residential development. The airport has been identified in the Charles County Comprehensive Plan since 1996, along with adjacent IG and BP zoning. An airport overlay zone would be appropriate to protect the airport.

    It’s vital that we take the right steps now, so that Charles County can capitalize on the airport’s potential to our future economy. Over the next 20 years, the FAA forecasts increased demand in small corporate air travel. Located 20 miles from Washington, D.C., and 23 air miles from the White House, with easy access to National Harbor and downtown D.C., Maryland Airport is ideally located to take advantage of the increased demand for corporate air travel.

    Additionally, the airport is a key economic development ingredient we need to protect. The State of Maryland Airport Economic Impact Study in 2013 — which studies direct, indirect and induced socioeconomic impacts of airports — reported that the Maryland Airport contributed more than $9 million annually in the form of direct and indirect business revenue.

    The Maryland Airport has the potential to be a key economic engine for Charles County, and particularly the western side, if we take the right planning steps now. Those steps, which include negating intense residential development around the airport, in the long run will have environmental, educational and economic benefits for all residents. Please join us in supporting a sensible land use plan for the Maryland Airport.

    Craig J. Renner, Waldorf

    The writer is chairman of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee.