June 25, 2011
UNC airport authority legislation repealed
legislation authorizing the University of North Carolina to establish
an airport authority was repealed on Thursday, June 23, 2011 when
Governor Bev Perdue signed into law the Government Reduction Act.
Senate Bill 593 eliminates “certain state boards and commissions that
have not met recently, are duplicative or are not deemed critical.”
Included in the list of items to be abolished is legislation enabling
the UNC Board of Governors to create an airport authority and build an
airport in Orange County. NC Representatives Verla Insko and Joe
Hackney, and NC Senator Ellie Kinnaird initiated adding the UNC airport
authority legislation to the bill.
August of 2008 NC Senate Bill 1925 was signed into law, authorizing the
UNC Board of Governors to establish an airport authority empowered to
identify a site within Orange County, take land by eminent domain, and
oversee construction of an airport. The site was limited to Orange
County despite a UNC-funded study that found Raleigh Durham Airport in
Wake County to be the most feasible location to replace the university's
Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill. At the time, UNC planned to
spend $50 to $100 million in public funds on a new regional airport to
be used primarily for private interests. Two thirds of the 15-seat
authority would have been controlled by UNC, UNC Health Care and NC
General Assembly appointees, with one third appointed by the county and
in August 2008, hundreds of Orange County residents opposed to UNC’s
airport plans contacted local, state and federal officials, commenting
on the flawed process behind the legislation, high projected costs and
negative impacts on residents, the environment and local farms. After
reviewing all the facts related to setting up the airport authority and
the potential use of eminent domain to site and build a UNC airport, in
January of 2009 UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp decided not to proceed with
seating the authority, with concurrence from UNC System President
Erskine Bowles. Instead, Thorp and UNC committed to building a $3
million hangar at RDU for relocating UNC’S Area Health Education Center
(AHEC) flight operations from Horace Williams Airport. AHEC operations
are currently preparing to move into the newly completed hangar at RDU.
residents and Preserve Rural Orange board members Tom Schopler and
Cliff Leath met recently with Insko, Hackney, and Kinnaird, and this
week applauded the Orange County delegation’s accomplishment of
repealing the airport authority legislation and praised Chancellor
Thorp’s leadership in putting the issue to rest. Since PRO was founded
in 2009, our members have been engaged in productive discussions with
government and university leaders to seek sustainable, cost-saving
alternatives to damaging development.
learning of Senate Bill 593's passage, Cliff Leath remarked, “The
repeal of the airport authority legislation gives us all a cause to
rejoice and thank our legislators for listening to us. It also reminds
us that people working together for the common good can and do make a
difference. The formation of Preserve Rural Orange, meetings held at
White Cross Community Center, petitions that neighbors signed, news
articles and letters to the editor, and communication efforts by Orange
County Voice, local businesses and other community groups were all a
testament to our resolve over this issue.”
PRO thanks community members who helped with this effort.
Without their support, encouragement, activism and involvement, this successful outcome would not be possible.
Chancellor Thorp announcement
(Excerpt from Senate Bill 593:)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SENATE BILL 593
AN ACT REDUCING STATE GOVERNMENT BY ABOLISHING CERTAIN STATE BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
I. ELIMINATION OF CERTAIN STATE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS THAT HAVE NOT
MET RECENTLY, ARE DUPLICATIVE, OR ARE NOT DEEMED CRITICAL
(from page 11)
SECTION 1.41.(a) Article 33 of Chapter 116 of the General Statutes is repealed.
SECTION 1.41.(b) G.S. 116-11(12c) is repealed.
SECTION 1.41.(c) This Section is effective when it becomes law.