FAA Gets Locals' Opinion on Airport Relocation

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An equally divided audience of 200 people showed up at Gulf Coast Community College Tuesday night to offer their opinions about relocating the Panama City-Bay County International Airport to West Bay.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the Corp of Engineers held the public hearing that lasted close to four hours.

The FAA was asking for feedback on its draft environmental impact study report. That 2,000 page document released in November outlines the pros and cons of moving the airport to West Bay.

Some political heavy-hitters showed up to show their support for relocation, including city mayors, local business leaders and even some politicians from outside of Bay County.

Supporters pointed out the economic opportunities not only to Bay County, but surrounding counties as well, but opponents say the FAA report misleads the public to believe there will be enough demand to justify a new $5 million airport.

"The total board feels that by supporting this location it will have a very positive impact on economic development of Washington County and the whole region as a whole," says Ronnie Finch, Washington County Commission Chairman.

"The FAA's draft has failed to show this project is needed to meet forecasted growth and aviation demands in the Panama City-Bay County region," says Don Hodges, who opposes airport relocation.

The FAA will continue taking written comments until January 28. You can mail them to:

FAA, Orlando Airports Office
5950 Hazeltine Drive, Suite 400
Orlando, Florida 32822-5024