Gainesville rejects airport's request for greater autonomy


Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 11:04 p.m.
Gainesville city commissioners clashed with the chairman of the Gainesville-Alachua County Airport Authority Monday over state legislation that would give the airport greater autonomy from the city.
The City Commission voted 6-1 to not support the airport's legislative request Monday but asked to continue working with the Airport Authority to create legislation acceptable to both bodies, with Commissioner Ed Braddy dissenting. Braddy also dissented on a 6-1 vote against turning over city lands used by the airport to the Airport Authority.
Commissioners expressed concern about vagueness in the legislation that could grant the airport what they felt was too much leeway in land use and zoning issues on airport property. Commissioners said they felt they had not had enough input into the process and had expected further discussions before the request was sent to Tallahassee.
"I can't explain to you how out of the loop I feel," Commissioner Warren Nielsen said.
Commissioners met with representatives of the Airport Authority earlier this month to discuss the legislation, and at the time recommended continuing meeting with the airport on the issue.
Alachua County's legislative delegation will vote on whether to support the legislation Wednesday in Tallahassee at a public meeting scheduled by State Rep. Ed Jennings, D-Gainesville. The next day, the Airport Authority will vote on whether to officially ask for those changes.
Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said Monday that State Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, has agreed not to sponsor the legislation without the city's approval. Without Smith's support it is unlikely a bill will be put forward in the state Senate, which would be necessary for the bill to become law.
"We seem to have been left out of the process," Commissioner Rick Bryant said. "When I heard there is legislation being sponsored in Tallahassee before the board is even voting on it, I have to ask: Are we pawns in a game?"
Airport Authority Chairman Jim Stringfellow argued with commissioners at the meeting, referring to the legislation as a minor correction to the state laws that regulate the airport.
"I think you're making a big mistake," Stringfellow said. "We had never intended to put anything over on anybody. We thought we were working with staff who was working with you."
Votes on motions to not support the Airport Authority request for legislation to give itself greater autonomy from the city and to give itself city lands used by the airport.
For: Rick Bryant; Chuck Chestnut, Jack Donovan, Pegeen Hanrahan, Craig Lowe, Warren Nielsen.
Against: Ed Braddy. How they voted Votes on motions to not support the Airport Authority request for legislation to give itself greater autonomy from the city and to give itself city lands used by the airport.
  • FOR: Rick Bryant; Chuck Chestnut, Jack Donovan, Pegeen Hanrahan, Craig Lowe, Warren Nielsen.
  • AGAINST: Ed Braddy.
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