Chesterfield may buy up some properties for airport expansion

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Monday night Chesterfield County met with dozens of people and unveiled the plans for major upgrades at the airport located off of Iron Bridge Road and Route 288. The plan is to expand the runway. Some properties in the safety zone, or clearing, required by the FAA will need to move.

From up in the sky, the green patch of grass used to expand the 5500 foot runway looks small. The county wants to extend the existing runway by 800 feet, about three football fields.

Pilot Brett Burkhart hopes it happens.

"It gives us larger safety margins and also we're able to bring in larger aircraft," explained Burkhart.

Commuter planes wouldn't have to fly to Richmond International Airport. With the expansion, if they wanted to, commercial pilots could land in Chesterfield.

"For businesses it allows them to bring in larger planes, more people and more business," said Burkhart. (And you're kind of hoping this means more work for you?) "Absolutely."

While the county hasn't projected how much it's economy would soar, right now the airport brings in $16-million each year. Monday night homeowners got their first look at the project.

When it comes to the airport Annette Jefferson, how close do you live? "Right across the street."

Annette Jefferson and her husband Michael moved into their custom-built 6500 square foot home nearly two years ago. For 20 years they saved and planned. Now the county wants to buy it. Annette's house and 13 others fall in the safety zone for the extended runway.

Homeowners aren't the only ones concerned about the expansion. Fair Havens Church is worried too. You see it's right across the street from the airport.

"We don't have a plan yet" explained church member Susan Totty. "We're just going to let God direct us. When you're right on the back runway it can't be but so surprising that someday they would want to expand," continued Totty. "But we weren't prepared for it. We hadn't given it much thought."

There are other upgrades that aren't controversial. The county wants to build an observation area where you can watch planes take off and land. Also in the works: hiking trails and landscaping leading up to the airport. County supervisors set to discuss the project in three weeks.

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