The commercialization of Paulding County's airport will be delayed until a federal environmental assessment is completed, according to a settlement announced by attorneys of Paulding residents who filed a legal challenge to the airport's expansion.
The residents agreed to drop their court challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. in exchange for a commitment by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct an environmental assessment with a public process and public meeting in Paulding County, according to an attorney for the residents, Charles McKnight.
The settlement comes after the residents argued that the FAA’s environmental approvals for taxiway and runway expansions were granted without analyzing the effects of commercial airline service.
“It is gratifying that the residents of Paulding County will finally have an opportunity to make their voices heard on a project that could fundamentally change the very nature of Paulding County,” according to a written statement from McKnight.
The settlement means that plans to commercialize the airport will now be pushed back significantly, according to the announcement.
Paulding airport officials are supportive of the agreement, and are confident they will meet the expectations of the environmental review, according to a statement. The FAA did not have any immediate comment.
“We’re just very appreciative that we finally have the FAA’s attention,” said resident Susan Wilkins, one of the residents who filed the legal challenge.
It’s possible that in the future, the project could be delayed more than a year, if the FAA were to decide to conduct a full environmental impact statement, according to McKnight.
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com