Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Lunken advisory board asks councilman to hold off on ban

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

EAST END - Lunken Airport's advisory board on Monday urged Cincinnati Councilman John Cranley to wait until it makes its recommendations to council next month on the airport's future before he proposes a motion to ban scheduled commercial passenger air service.

The nine-member Lunken Airport Oversight Advisory Board, appointed by council, asked for time to weigh a compromise Cranley has proposed to help dissolve a heated dispute over the airport's expansion.

The board also wants time to consider another, similar compromise from Councilman David Crowley, who chairs a council committee that oversees the airport.

Cranley's proposal, however, is more specific. It supports longer runways and expanded weight limits for corporate jets that corporate users want in return for a ban on regular commercial flights and more noise-control efforts many neighbors are requesting.

But the proposal also calls for taking action months before two studies affecting the airport's future are complete.

Cranley is calling for the commercial air service ban in conjunction with new Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations that go into effect in June that would change Lunken's FAA certification.

Lunken's current FAA certification permits the operation of 30-seat-or-less scheduled passenger aircraft. But because such service isn't operating at Lunken, the airport's new designation would preclude commercial flights.

The FAA certification changes come, airport officials explained Monday, as the FAA tries to increase safety in the nation's airports.

But on Monday, Lunken Airport's general manager, Dan Dickten, urged the airport's advisory board not to accept the new classification, saying it could reduce federal funding and safety requirements.

Board members said they needed more time to digest the ramifications of the new certification and to consider the airport's options for seeking different certification.

They also want figures on how much FAA funding the airport could lose, how much money the airport has and a cost/benefit analysis of noise mitigation strategies that may be part of a soon-to-be-complete noise study.

Next, the board will hear from the public May 4 on the proposed compromises and vote on their recommendations to council May 10.

Some airport board members complained Monday that it doesn't make sense for City Council to do an "end run" around its own advisory group. Crowley agreed.

But Cranley says he still plans to introduce his compromise proposal to the rest of council at Wednesday's meeting and, along with Crowley, began speaking Monday evening to east side community councils about the airport.

And while Cranley said he does want to hear from the advisory board, he does plan to call for a council vote the week of May 10 whether the advisory board has reached a decision or not.

"You guys are not in the business of having people call you up. That's our job as politicians to take those punches, take those calls, take those concerns and to decide very tough issues," Cranley told the advisory board. "I am willing to bet the compromise I've proposed will not perfectly make everyone happy on both sides of the issue. But I want to alleviate the effort as opposed to expecting you guys to take the political fall for something we really should be stepping up to the plate to do."

But Anderson Township Trustee Al Peter told Cranley that he, as a fellow politician and member of the airport board, was "perfectly willing to take the time to consider things thoroughly and appropriately before the decision is already made for us.

"It would be the proper way that council has suggested that this be done and we have an opportunity to meet two more times before you submit this to council and effectively cut the legs out from anything that we might have a chance to do."


E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com

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