The County Commissioners approved a major expansion of Carroll's regional airport yesterday, allowing a Pennsylvania company to build seven hangars for corporate jets.
Hangar Corp. of America plans to build 70,000 square feet of hangar space and 10,500 square feet of office space at the airport off Route 97 north of Westminster. The $3.3 million project will provide space to house 12 to 25 aircraft.
Construction will begin in July and the hangars should be completed by the end of the year, said Dan Haug, owner of the company in Springhouse, Pa.
The project is the latest in a series of improvements that county officials hope will attract business and establish the airport as a primary stop for pilots flying along the Atlantic coast.
"We are passing from adolescence into young adulthood," said J. Michael Evans, county public works director, whose department oversees the airport. "There will always be a place here for small aircraft, but we are also looking for larger users."
Under the agreement announced yesterday, Hangar Corp. will build and manage the hangars and the county will receive a percentage of the lease revenue.
During the first five years of the contract, the county will receive about $15,000 a year, Evans said. The county's percentage will increase afterward; during the contract's 40-year life, Carroll will receive more than $3 million.
The deal poses one risk, Evans said. If Hangar Corp. cannot to rent the hangar space and meet its loan payments, the county must shoulder the debt.
Haug said that scenario is unlikely.
When asked by Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown whether he was confident the hangar space would sell, Haug replied, "Every hangar that I've built has been rented."
Haug owns hangars in Texas, Colorado, California, South Carolina and Connecticut.
He said the demand for hangar space is increasing. With corporate jet sales up and international hubs like Baltimore-Washington International Airport trying to direct aircraft to smaller airports, most space should be rented before the project is completed, he said.
The county airport, known formally as the Jack B. Poage Carroll County Regional Airport, has 82 small hangars and about 30 outdoor tie-downs for other aircraft. There are no facilities to house larger aircraft such as Lear jets.
Both Haug and county officials said the hangars will make the airport an economic magnet.
The county hopes the improvements will make the airport more profitable. In recent years, the airport has struggled to break even, Evans said. That should change when the county reaps its share of the hangar revenue and fuel sales to larger jets, he said.
Evans said the the hangars, like other recent improvements, will help put the airport "on the map." The county recently built a fuel station.
In 1994, the runway was widened and lengthened. At 5,100 feet, it is Maryland's sixth-largest nonmilitary runway.
The airport is also one of three in Maryland in line for a global positioning satellite system. The system guides aircraft during inclement weather, allowing the runway to increase its operating hours.
Pub Date: 5/07/98