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Owls Head to hold hearing Monday on airport agreement

By Stephen Betts | Nov 14, 2020
Photo by: Knox County An aerial view of the Knox County Regional Airport

Owls Head — Owls Head will hold a public hearing Monday afternoon at 3 in the lower level of the community building to receive comments about a proposed new agreement with Knox County concerning future development at the airport.

The public hearing is required prior to holding a special town meeting.

Selectmen are scheduled to decide Monday afternoon whether to hold a town meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30 that would authorize the Board of Selectmen to sign the new agreement.

That agreement would then go to the Knox County Commissioners for a vote.

The intent of the agreement is to have the town and county cooperate in the regulation of the growth and development of the Knox County Regional Airport within the town.

Owls Head Selectman Gordon Page said his personal opinion as a private citizen, Owls Head resident and taxpayer, is that he is comfortable with the agreement.

"As an elected member of the select board, I voted with the other two select board members to unanimously approve the final revised document for presentation to the voters at the special town meeting scheduled for the 30th of November. The matter of the proposed interlocal agreement will be decided by those in attendance at the town meeting on that date," Page said Saturday.

The current agreement in place was approved by the town and county in 2001

Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw said Saturday that he supports having an agreement in place, however, he maintains the current interlocal agreement conflicts with Federal Aviation Administration's guidance.

"The spirit of the original agreement (which opponents of the airport identify with) is that the town has the final say in any matter regarding growth at the Knox County Airport. The FAA has claimed the ultimate authority to dictate what the airport has to comply with in regards to safety measures for the national airspace system. That includes safety areas, management of lands surrounding approach paths, and even expansion as we saw in years past." Shaw said.

The proposed new agreement, Shaw said, recognizes the FAA’s authority, and creates a joint board made up of representatives of both the County and the Town to deliberate actions taken by the airport in the coming years.

"Without the passage of the proposed interlocal agreement, the county would most likely issue a 90 day notice to terminate, as articulated in the current agreement, because it is not compatible with current FAA guidelines and would place the airport in violation of grant assurances it has made over the last 15 years with the Airport Improvement Program," the airport manager said.

The proposed new agreement, however, is opposed by some town residents.

Jared Schmelzer said Friday the "County not only is acting completely contrary to the Interlocal Agreement, they are acting here to weaken if not remove the Town from any future control over growth of the Airport and the impacts to the community of Owls Head."

"While the FAA has authority regarding its personnel and operations and specific responsibilities, the FAA does not have authority over nor to impose FAA regulations on a Town or County," Schmelzer said.





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Comments (1)
Posted by: FRANK ROSS | Nov 15, 2020 09:36

The Town of Owls Head has to work diligently to limit the airport from growing outside its present boarders. The only way the runways can extend and not take peoples homes is toward Route 73 in South Thomaston and that will eventually mean taking peoples homes too. Larger heaver aircraft, which is the only reason to extend the runways, mean more disturbance of lives for people near the airport and those in the approach paths and it doesn't mean any money in the tax base for Owls Head, in fact Owls Head loses tax base every time land is taken by the County. I'm not sure this agreement has the teeth to allow Owls Head say NO to the FAA when (I said when not if) they say larger aircraft are needed and they are going to enlarge the airport as part of a "directive, regulation, requirement or recommendation". There are already rumors of airport enlargement swirling around in the background, so it is out there.



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