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Airport proposal raises concerns
Some tenants of the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport are concerned about a proposed policy that limits the use of leased airport property.

The policy is part of an ordinance update and requires individuals who lease aeronautical property from the airport commission, like aircraft hangars, or those who want to hold an event on airport property to submit an application and usage fee to the commission before gaining permission to hold special events or conduct other non-aviation related business.

The policy covers the Brunswick Golden Isles and the McKinnon St. Simons Island airports.

The Airport Commission Executive Committee met Tuesday and heard concerns from tenants about the proposal.

"When I first came here, we were asked to do many, many special events so that it became a distraction to our mission," said Steve Brian, executive director of the airport commission.

The proposed policy will not affect only outsiders who want to host fundraisers or other events at the airport. It also restricts what tenants can do with their property.

Brian says the Federal Aviation Administration has regulations in place that specify how airport property can be used.

The FAA requires airports to receive fair market value for the use of its aeronautical property for non-aeronautical use.

Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the FAA, said it's not always easy to determine what constitutes non-aeronautical use.There are many factors involved, including evaluating the safety of individuals at the airport and if the event becomes the main focus of the airport.

Fair market value can also be open to interpretation, she said.

Brian said at Tuesday's meeting that the amount that would be charged for subleasing aeronautical property for non-aeronautical use would be 140 percent of the lease price.

That doesn't sit well with tenants.

"(Steven Brian) said he obtained that figure from an appraiser. Yet when he writes these policies, he references what he wants and leaves out any other supporting documents," said Janice Britton, secretary of the Glynn County Airport Tenants Association. "This is an ongoing issue with him. We have to request backup information to support his statements."

Renn Gruber, president of the tenants association and owner of Gruber Aviation at McKinnon St. Simons Airport, recently stopped hosting a weekly luncheon he had held for years because of new fees and regulations.

"We made a decision a few weeks ago to stop our lunches because we were going to have to pay $100 to host those lunches and $50 each week," Gruber said.

Gruber said he understands the airport must have a consistent policy on handling special events, but he does not believe the proposal promotes community.

"Part of it is that I think this airport commission has looked very strongly at enforcing every possible regulation and guidance from the FAA," Gruber said. "A lot of other airports are much more lenient and willing to help support community events."

He pointed to the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in metro Atlanta, which hosts a "good neighbor day" to promote its image.

"If we don't have a positive image as pro-business, we're not going to get people to move in here," Gruber said. "We're not getting people to use our airport facilities."

Airport commissioners said they would consider some changes to the policy, which has not been officially adopted.

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