The Westminster Common Council is weighing an ordinance that would permit aircraft hangars on county-owned property that falls within city limits - a move that could increase the city's tax base in allowing for the development of additional hangars.
Airport hangars are not among the types of buildings allowed in the restricted industrial zone that applies to the Westminster areas around the 26-year-old Carroll County Regional Airport.
The city's zoning provision allows for the "manufacture and assembly of aircraft" but not for the storage and repair of the planes, said Gary Horst, who supervises the airport as administrator of the county's Office of Performance Auditing and Special Projects.
Despite the zoning restrictions, some hangars are already within city limits. The ordinance, which calls for a zoning text amendment, would clarify the use of those buildings.
Horst said the airport has seven corporate hangars that are 10,000 square feet each. Five of those are within city limits. There are also 82 "T" hangars of about 1,200 square feet each.
The county has leased all seven corporate hangars. The leases are expected to bring in $420,000 annually in revenue.
The zoning text amendment would also make it easier for developers to build aircraft hangars on city property next to the airport.
"It's possible we'd want to develop additional hangars in the city and do some amount of repair," Horst said.
With the recent $1.3 million purchase of 14 acres adjoining the airport, the county could expand its hangar operation. Horst said that as many as 35 additional "T" hangars and five additional corporate hangars could be built in the future.
Laurell Taylor, Westminster's zoning administrator, said the additional development could help the city's coffers by increasing its tax base.
But one county resident believes there is already too much air traffic. Michelle Jefferson, president of the Central Carroll Republican Club, spoke up at Westminster's council meeting Monday, saying she was concerned that the additional hangars would bring more planes into the area.
"The planes tend to rattle the house a little bit," said Jefferson, who in an interview yesterday said her house is in the flight path of planes landing at the airport. "If you're in the shower, it sounds like every now and then there might be a spacecraft hovering over."
Horst said the county has heard few complaints, but he does anticipate an increase in air traffic, with or without additional hangars.
The airport spans 155 acres along Route 97 outside Westminster. Considered a reliever airport for Baltimore-Washington International and other larger airports in the area, it accommodates 100,000 flights departing from or landing there every year.
A technical advisory committee will make recommendations to the county commissioners next month that will be pivotal in revamping the airport's master plan. That effort is costing nearly $250,000, nearly all of which is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.