Review of 1991 Environmental
Assessment Final Report for Huntsville Airport
1. There are fewer operations in 2009 with a
5,000-foot runway than there were in 1991 with a 3,700-foot
runway. The report did not demonstrate a need to expand
Madison County Executive Airport runway beyond
2. The report neglected to
include Pryor Field Regional Airport near Decatur AL in its
assessment of local airports in its justification to purchase and
expand Huntsville Airport North. Huntsville-Madison
International Airport has a master plan that shows areas allocated
for additional runways that can be constructed if needed without
removing homes or relocating roads. According to the
Fixed Base Operator at Huntsville-Madison International Airport,
they were operating at about 30 percent capacity in June 2009.
3. The report did not describe most of the
social impacts the airport expansion would cause as it missed the
homes on Lewis Tate Road that the Madison County Executive Airport
Authority wants to remove. If removal of those homes is
necessary, the Alabama Aeronautics Bureau should have noted that in
their review comments.
4. The report understates the adverse effects of
road and runway construction on nearby residents and equates road
construction noise and pollution to home building noise.
5. The notification process (notices in the
legals section of the newspaper) for the project public hearing may
have met the letter of the law but it wasn’t enough for a project
that was going to force people to move.
Chapter 2. Purpose and Need for
The report listed total operations of 50,577 for 1991
and projected 111,895 total operations for 2006 and 121,020 total
operations for 2011. In an April 2009 press release, the
number of operations was given as about 3,800 per month (45,600 per
year) which is fewer than claimed in 1991 and far fewer than
projected for 2006 and 2011. This reduced number of operations
is after completion of a 5,000-foot runway in August of 2001.
According to the report, the 5,000-foot runway was sufficient for
precision instrument approach facilities. Events since 1991
have shown that expansion of the Madison County Executive Airport to
6,500 feet is not needed.
Chapter 3. Alternatives
When justifying the need to purchase and expand
Huntsville Airport North, only Madison County, AL and Lincoln
County, TN airports were considered. The report ignored Pryor
Field Regional Airport near Decatur. In addition to serving
Decatur and Athens with their industries, Pryor Field now has a
6,100-foot runway and drive time/mileage is more convenient to
Huntsville-Madison International Airport and Trade Zone businesses
than the Meridianville location. Pryor Field drive
time/mileage to Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park are
comparable to the Meridianville location. Mileage and drive times
were found on Mapquest.com.
Environmental Consequences – Specific Impact
(3). Social Impacts.
The report identified relocating four dwellings and
two house trailers as the only social impact of the airport
expansion with only one of the homes being south of Meridianville
Bottom Road (Item 23 as shown on the photo below). Now some 18
years later, the Madison County Executive Airport Authority wants to
remove seven more substantial homes south of Meridianville Bottom
Road with taxpayers paying most of the costs. The report
should have shown and the Madison County Commission and the Madison
County Executive Airport Authority should have known that the runway
expansion and relocation of Meridianville Bottom Road would
adversely affect homeowners on both sides of Lewis Tate Road.
(20) Construction Impacts.
The report states construction noise should not be a
problem due to distances from occupied property. From the
photo above, it should have been obvious that statement is
incorrect. In addition to noise, dust and windblown dirt would
be an irritant to nearby property owners. The report then
states residential construction has been in the area for
years. To compare noise from heavy equipment constructing
roads and runways to noise from residential construction is not a
Exhibit No. 8-12. Project Comments by
Alabama Aeronautics Department (now called Bureau of
Comments stated there is no justification to construct
a 6,500-foot runway at the time of the review. The Alabama
Aeronautics Department had no objection to the project as shown for
protecting airspace around the airport for future development.
The Aeronautics Department should have noted the homes on Lewis Tate
Road and required additional studies to determine if the homes
should be removed or some sort of noise mitigation measures
instituted if a 6,500-foot runway is constructed.
Transcript of a Public Hearing on Proposed
Development at Huntsville Airport North.
Notification of the public hearing was through ads in
the legals section of two local newspapers. Whether
intentional or through ignorance, that is a sure way to assure low
attendance. How many people read that section of the
newspaper? Direct mail to all residents and property owners
that might be affected is the proper method of notification for a
project of that is going to take people’s homes or affect the value
of their property. Another effective method of notification
that could have been used is posting notices where people
gather often like post offices and grocery stores.
It is obvious from the meeting transcript that the
people came to find out what was proposed and were not prepared to
speak in public about the project. No one said they were in
favor of the project. One person was against the project and
the rest complained about how the notification was carried
out. In the end, it didn’t matter how many people showed up or
what they said.