The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to move forward with Dream Aviation’s proposal for a new building on Airport Drive in Westminster after a concept review on Tuesday morning.
Developers proposed a 28,500-square-foot, two-story building at the western end of Airport Drive near the Carroll County Regional Airport and Md. 97 to add to the company’s flight school and maintenance facilities.
“We are primarily a flight training center,” said Dream Aviation Director of Marketing and Relations Brad Wantz at the meeting. “We also provide aircraft maintenance on our own planes, as well as transient planes that [Skytech — the primary operator that refuels and works on newer aircraft at the airport] is not able to handle, as well as customer planes who have their aircraft stored at Carroll County Regional Airport.”
The new building would have a footprint of about 21,750 square feet, with about 15,000 square feet reserved as hangar space to store planes and about 6,500 square feet each for first- and second-floor office space, according to Development Review Coordinator III Laura Matyas of the Carroll County Bureau of Development.
Also, a chain-link fence would be reinforced for security purposes and the parking lot would be repainted — removing and replacing about 13 parking spaces and adding an ADA-compliant space for handicap use.
Developers estimate the building would require about 28 parking spaces and there are 52 already available, so there is “plenty of parking on site,” Matyas said.
Currently the company has about 10,000 square feet of property a short distance from the proposed site and Wantz said Tuesday it’s just not enough.
“This [new building] is allowing our business to grow,” he said in an interview after the meeting. “We have been at a point of controlled growth for quite some time — because of facility limitations we can only store so many airplanes in our current hangar, we have a limited number of classrooms.
“I have four instructors and only two classrooms,” he said. “People end up teaching out in the hangar or things like that. But to be able to expand, add additional aircraft, have enough space for teachers, students and renters [will really help us]. Also, our maintenance part is the most important so we can grow the business properly.”
But, he said the company has no intentions of growing too big.
“This [proposal] is built around our goal to have a Pilatus PC-12,” said Wantz, “which is a single-engine, large turboprop aircraft.”
The Pilatus PC-12 has a wingspan of 53 feet and a height of about 47 feet, he said.
“Nothing we have right now is close to that size,” said Wantz. “[That’s our goal] ultimately, down the road. The first intention for growth is to add additional aircraft for the flight training side. But ... we have no intentions of getting into jets and stuff like that.”
The main concern of the Planning and Zoning Commission members was how the proposal would be consistent with the Carroll County Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan. Airport Drive is listed as a location for the county to eventually add sidewalks and bike lanes on and around Md. 97.
“Should we be saying we definitely want sidewalks there or should we not be?” asked commission member Dan Hoff.
“The planning for this area has them,” said commission member Alec Yeo. “I think we are boxed in more so with this [county commissioner-owned] property than if it were on a private property.”
But because the property is owned by the county, it can decide to put in the sidewalks at any time, Wantz explained.
“That's something we need to hash out with the county a little bit better,” he said after the meeting. “They didn’t give a clear signal.
“What’s interesting is we don’t have authority to give them an easement to their own property,” said Wantz. “It almost seemed like they were going to be expecting us to put a sidewalk where we don’t actually front that area the sidewalk is anticipated to be on. We are only leasing the ground we are building on [so] there needs to be a discussion with the county requiring us to put a sidewalk there.”
Wantz also said the building would become county property in about 20 years anyway and putting a sidewalk and bike path in proximity to the area of Md. 97 near Airport Drive could be dangerous with the density of traffic on the highway daily.
“There’s still some further discussion that needs to happen,” he said.
Although the project has been in the works for more than a year, Dream Aviation took it to the county for the first time in January for its technical review where no citizens came to express public comment. After this week’s meeting, in order to make Dream Aviation’s plan reality developers must next submit the final site plan for review and approval.
Dream Aviation has not yet scheduled its return to the commission to discuss the final site plan.