By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MOUNT WASHINGTON - Residents can tell City Council their thoughts Thursday on the future of Lunken Airport and how its potential expansion could affect their neighborhoods.
The 7 p.m. meeting before council's Community Development, Education and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will be held at the American Legion Hall at 1837 Sutton Ave.
Dozens of neighbors are expected to turn out, including many who complain they couldn't get into a similar, packed meeting in February at Lunken. That meeting was heavily attended by airport employees, users and supporters.
Mount Washington resident Judy Zehren is organizing "block captains" in neighborhoods to get the word out about Lunken. She also is circulating e-mails.
"The people who live around the airport need to get their side of the story out there," said Zehren, a member of the Lunken Neighborhood Coalition.
"It is critical to everyone who lives around the airport. At the last meeting, it was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon - and most people work. So 7 p.m. is a good hour."
There is a long-running controversy over noise from planes taking off and landing at Lunken amid a push to expand the 75-year-old airport. Cincinnati leaders will have to decide shortly about the future of city owned Lunken Airport - after two studies wrap up.
One is assessing noise at Lunken, and the second is updating the 1,140-acre airport's master plan.
The noise study is expected to be complete this summer; the master plan update should be done by fall, said Eileen Enabnit, director of the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering, which oversees the airport.
The city's dilemma: Should the historic airfield - now used for small, corporate, recreational and charter flight - grow over the next 20 years? And if it does grow, by how much? And at what cost to neighbors?
Many residents fear that if Lunken expands, more and larger planes would fly over their homes.
Once runways are built for newer aircraft, neighbors say, they fear that the airport's Federal Aviation Administration certification, which now limits aircraft size to 30 seats, would have to be changed.
And once the airport allows larger jets for some businesses, it wouldn't be able to stop use of larger ones for charter or scheduled passenger service.
Corporate and other users of Lunken, however, contend that if the airport doesn't grow, they would be forced to move to an airport with longer runways, heavier weight limits for planes and more hangar space.
One such company, Procter & Gamble Co., already has ordered a new, larger plane that eventually will need an expanded airport.
There also is a proposal to form an airport authority to take oversight of Lunken Airport from Cincinnati City Council.
The effort comes from corporate and private airport users who say they have grown weary of how the city runs the airport, particularly as they push to extend runways and increase plane weight limits.
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