Airport officials a step closer to policy to tidy up the facility

CAREY JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer

Airport officials a step closer to policy to tidy up the facility

Aircraft tied down at Franklin County's airport

LOUISBURG -- Airport officials moved one step closer to tidying up the airfield.

Going back to August, the Triangle North Executive Airport Advisory Board began discussions to address derelict aircraft that use the airport's tie down spaces -- the most visible crafts to visitors.

Later that fall, Airport Manager Bo Carson and Advisory Board member Frank Donahue began exploring resolutions, but got hung up on the true definition of derelict planes and, importantly, a fair mechanism to deal with them if they were deemed derelict.

By February, Advisory Board member Steve Trubilla urged fellow members to expedite a resolution.

In response, the advisory board tasked Trubilla and Donahue to investigate and craft a policy by which the airport would deal with derelict craft.

During the board's March 10 meeting, Trubilla recommended that the board use the policy crafted by Raleigh-Durham International Airport, amending it as needed to meet Franklin County's needs.

He said RDU's document has already passed the muster of issues that were holding back Franklin County.

"... They've put it through their lawyers," Trubilla said.

Trubilla suggested the authority send a notice letter to owners of the derelict craft -- about six or seven -- but airport board members said that would be putting the horse before the cart.

"I don't see how you could send out a notice without a policy [in place]," said Advisory Board Chair John Allers.

The advisory board tasked Carson with taking the findings provided by Donahue and Trubilla and pairing it with RDU's policy to craft a plan that works for the Franklin County airport.

Carson, noted though, the thing that stumped him would be what sort of enforcement would the policy require, if any.

"... What do you do if they don't [remediate the problem]," Carson told board members. "That's what I don't know, honestly."

Donahue said many policies don't have easily definable enforcement. But that doesn't mean the county should not work to address the issue.

"We can't let that hold us back," he said. "A lot of the language [in a policy] does not have enforcement in it, just like, if you look at the policy on building a plane in a hangar, it actually says the person building a plane in a hangar can be expected to produce benchmark time frames with the airport manager that are reasonable," he said.

"What is reasonable? So, it's not code language.

"It does not have an 'if this, then that' [enforcement to it].

"That's what we're up against," he said. "We probably can't do anything, but that shouldn't be the reason that you don't have a policy because most people are reasonable and they'll do something."

Trubilla agreed.

"[If you adopt a policy], 70 percent of the problem will go away," he said.

"Even if we get 70 percent compliance, that's a hell of a lot better than what we got right now," said Advisory Board member Dr. Phil Stover.

Right now, Carson said, there is "movement" on two of the six craft that would probably meet the derelict definition.

"That's a good sign," he said.

Carson said he would work to craft a plan for the advisory board's review and approval.

If that happens, the matter would go to county commissioners for ultimate approval.

The advisory board next meets on April 13.