By Kristin Rover
Officials in Clermont County are discussing the possibility of lengthening the runway at the Clermont County Airport in the coming years.
According to Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud, the idea has been brought up, but commissioners have not yet held any public meetings regarding the runway extension.
Proud said the county recently applied for a grant to extend the runway for safety purposes.
“The grant we applied for was a safety extension,” Proud said. “It is not the official extension of the runway. We have not, as a board, sat down and had a discussion about the extension of the runway.”
Commissioner David Uible said he became interested in officially extending the runway after talking with individuals in the industry.
“I started talking about it after a meeting last summer with someone who has a jet,” Uible said.
Uible said lengthening the runway would help with economic development, and he said it would be a great infrastructure improvement for the county.
“As much as anything, I get excited about it because of the economic development that would come from it,” Uible said about the project.
Uible said many big companies these days will use jets to transport their presidents and CEOs when they are looking for a new location.
He said the grant they received for the safety extension will take the runway from 3,600 feet to 4,000 feet.
“We would need 4,500 to be jet worthy,” Uible said. “We would need to have 500 more feet.”
Uible said they would be looking to extend the runway on the end furthest from Taylor Road. He said officials with Sporty’s Pilot Shop, the company that manages the airport, have already cleared the land in that area.
Uible said extending the runway will involve several steps. He said the most important is acquiring part of two properties neighboring the airport.
“My goal is to have the property acquired through donations,” Uible said.
Uible said he already has one private investor interested in donating a significant amount of money, and he said he is hoping to also utilize grants, possibly from the Federal Aviation Administration and the local Port Authority.
“This is a great infrastructure improvement,” Uible said about the property.
Uible said the FAA is encouraging small airports in the area to make these types of improvements.
Proud said he believes extending the runway can help economic development, but he wants to make sure to keep the public informed about what their plans would be.
“The extension of it can help economic development,” Proud said. “We have a lot of corporations in the county that may have people fly in. But I just want the public informed. We are not going to have huge freight planes come in.”
Officials and local residents are already talking about the possibility of the runway extension.
Amelia village council members briefly discussed the impact the extension could have on their village during their May 28 council meeting.
During the meeting, Councilman Derrick Campbell asked for the public to give feedback about their questions or concerns.
He said he is concerned about having jets flying over the village into and out of the airport every day.
“I think it is important that we make it known,” Campbell said about any concerns they may have about the extension.
Campbell said they could discuss the possibility of restricting air space or time with county officials to decrease the amount of noise that would result.
“We just want to maintain air space to where we don’t have to deal with it all the time,” Mayor Todd Hart said.
Uible and Proud both said they would have several town hall meetings before a decision was made to officially extend the runway.
“If we would look at extending the runway, especially if there is any funding involved, we would have informal hearings,” Proud said. “Whether we are required to by law or not, just to get the public, especially the people around there, informed.”
Uible said he does not feel that noise will be an issue if jets were flying into the airport.
“I do not believe these jets will make that much noise,” he said. “Less noise than the War Bird Museum.”
Hal Shevers, the founder and chairman of Sporty’s Pilot Shop, said they will continue to do a great job managing the airport if the runway gets extended or if it remains the same.
“We manage the airport for the county, and we manage it better than any other county airport in Ohio,” Shevers said. “If they lengthen the runway we will manage it just as well.”
Shevers said being in the air travel industry, they see what happens to airports throughout the country.
“All these small towns and states that have been increasing employment the fastest are lengthening their runway,” Shevers said.
He said officials with different companies fly in, look around, and make a decision.
“This airport was specifically built as an industrial airport in 1968,” Shevers said. “At that time airplanes were about the same size, but much slower.”
Shevers said they would need to lengthen the runway to allow jets to fly in not because of their size, but because the jet planes travel at a higher rate of speed and need more room to land.
“Unless the runway is 4,000 feet long, the airport doesn’t appear on high altitude charts,” Shevers said. “A lot of jets won’t even land on that.”
Shevers said if they extend the runway further than 4,000 feet it will enable many executive-type jets to touch down.
Shevers said extending the runway would also be nice for pilots already using the runway.
“It would certainly make it safer for all existing airplanes,” he said.
Shevers said Sporty’s will give the commissioners all the cooperation they possibly can if they decide to lengthen the runway.
He said they may need a couple more fuel cars and may need to hire a few more staff members, but he said lengthening the runway won’t hamper their ability to handle the air traffic.
“We could handle 10-times the traffic quite easily,” he said.
He said they will be happy, though, with whatever decision is made.
“We’ll be extremely happy if it stays,” Shevers said. “We’ll be extremely happy if they extend it.”
Uible said he is not sure when they will host town hall meetings about lengthening the runway.
“There is nothing planned, but I expect it will happen in the next 12 months,” Uible said about having town hall meetings.
He said he hopes they will be able to complete the runway extension within two years.