- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Progress is being incrementally made in the expansion of the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, and on Monday, the St. Mary’s County Planning Commission gave initial approval for 75 new hangars and other buildings there.
There is a waiting list about that long for hangar space now, said Ken Reed of S. Hunt Aero Co. “St. Mary’s County is blessed by a thriving aviation business,” he said.
The airport’s runway is 4,150 feet long with long-standing plans to extend it another 1,200 feet to 5,350 feet. “That’s only going to make it better,” Reed said.
In addition to the new hangars for planes, another eight buildings were approved, to be built by S. Hunt Aero. The new buildings would be constructed on the south side of the airport, building a new section of Airport Road on a 83-acre parcel. The buildings will probably be used for research and development offices, said Jay Hopson, developing agent. To serve as a buffer between the new development at the airport and the residential sections of the Wildewood neighborhood will be three farmstead lots and wetlands, he said. “I think the impacts will be minimal for that.”
There should be fewer than 50 trips a day into the airport from the new hangars, he said, but a traffic study will have to be made for the new buildings.
“This is the place that will have an employment campus,” said Harold Willard, planning commission member.
“This is really a great thing,” said Shelby Guazzo, planning commission vice chair, but, “a project of this magnitude needs a phasing plan.”
Guazzo asked about the airport expansion’s overall progress.
Wetlands are being constructed now to offset those that would be disturbed by the expansion, said George Erichsen, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation. Then obstructions have to be removed for aerial easements and sections of both Airport Road and Lawrence Hayden Road need to be relocated to make way for the airport’s enlargement, he said, which are under design now.
“You’re still looking at 2019, 2020” for construction, Erichsen said.
“Mr. Erichsen, I heard you tell us all this 12 years ago,” Guazzo said.
“It’s the same schedule,” Erichsen said. “The funding only comes in stages,” and each phase has to be completed before the next one and its funding come along, he said.
The state and federal government would pay for 90 percent of the $20 million project. “It’s very much strung out in terms of state and federal funding,” he said.
The planning commission also approved a 6,895-square-foot Advance Auto Parts store in Charlotte Hall, to be located next to the Cedar Point Federal Credit Union and Wawa there.
Landlord John K. Parlett Jr. said he pressed the company to improve the architecture of this particular store, as he did not want it to look like the Advance Auto Parts on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park. “That’s as plain as a mud fence,” he said. He asked the planning commission to take a closer look at projects’ architecture. “I think we can do a better job in a lot of the cases,” he said.
The planning commission also approved two 6,000-square-foot office buildings at Airport View Drive in Hollywood for dental services and a 6,000-square-foot animal hospital building near the Wawa and Family Dollar in Mechanicsville.