Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Airport opponents change tune

Residents say deal gives them voice in Lunken expansion

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The same residents who last week vehemently opposed an agreement with a charter service operating at Lunken Airport, spoke out in favor of it Monday.

        They said the deal gives them a measure of control over development at the airport that they didn't have before.

        It will also allow Executive Jet Management to proceed with expansion plans for a new maintenance facility at the airport after threatening to pull 170 jobs out of the city two weeks ago.

        “I think we were just put in a position where we had to accept,” said Judy Zehren of Mount Washington. “We may have lost a battle, but we didn't lose the war.”

        She said Monday the compromise will help residents have a say in airport operations and let officials know that residents will not quietly accept airport growth.

        On Thursday she had said the deal was a bad one and that she intended to fight it. She said she did not think her neighborhood interests had been represented by parties negotiating a compromise.

        “We have been going without any input at all,” said Nancy Drambarean, a Linwood resident and member of the Lunken Neighborhood Coalition, which was formed by residents to address noise concerns. “We pulled off an incredible accomplishment.”

        Members of the coalition crafted a compromise with Executive Jet in a meeting with Councilman Phil Heimlich last week.

        He said if the two sides came to an agreement then he would ask council to lift a development moratorium at Lunken for Executive Jet.

        Council votes on the compromise Wednesday.

        Executive Jet agreed not to test engines between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., not to land any 737s or larger at its new facility and to abide by any noise restrictions resulting from an 18-month noise study by the Federal Aviation Administration.

        But members of the coalition said last week the compromise was nothing and that the company refused to make significant concessions, including a limit on the number of yearly flights.

        Coalition spokesman Tony Giglio said last week the city had forced the agreement down residents throats in order to keep Executive Jet from leaving town.

        But coalition member Dan Roche said Monday he appreciated Mr. Heimlich's efforts and called the compromise a victory.

        “What we have got is realistic,” he said. “A way of limiting the unbridled expansion of Lunken Airport.”


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