Lebanon Again Delays Vote on Runway

Lebanon — The City Council last night once again put off a decision on a runway improvement project that has been long debated, just one month after last delaying a decision.

City Manager Greg Lewis informed the council that a new option had surfaced in talks earlier this week with Federal Aviation Administration officials, which would involve installing lights above the tree level of about 38 acres of forested land that have been deemed an obstruction by the FAA. The alternative, however, would still require reconfiguring the airport runway, and a reevaluation of airport operations, or both.

While councilors were split over whether the alternative was viable, the motion to delay action on the runway improvement project passed with six in favor and two opposed. City Councilor Bruce Bronner and Mayor Georgia Tuttle voted against the motion.

City Councilors asked for information about the lighting alternative, which would avoid the removal of the trees that border residential areas, providing a buffer for noise, as well as aesthetic and environmental value. As was the case last month, city council chambers were packed full with residents, the majority of which appeared to be abutters to the site of the proposed project.

Lewis said that the city should be able to provide information about the lighting, but that it would be impossible to determine what the runway reconfiguration would look like without using outside consultants.

City councilors put off a vote on the airport project one month ago after expressing dissatisfaction with the data that airport officials and the Federal Aviation Administration provided in making their cases for why the project is needed.

City taxpayers paid $198,500 toward the airport’s operating cost in 2012, and the estimated total for this year stands at $215,500.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com.