ELKINS, W.Va. – A special meeting was held at the James F. Cain Courthouse Annex Wednesday night in Elkins regarding the Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport Authority’s draft environmental assessment that is mandated by the FAA.
The meeting allowed the public to address the airport authority about the proposed assessment. Many residents spoke out against the assessment for fear of the effects on agriculture and the taking of their land.
Airport Authority officials said the FAA has made them aware that approach ends of runways two, three, and five have trees encroaching upon them, and there is a need to change the angle as it pertains to a precision approach from the current terrestrial based approach.
“All of that comes down to some obstacles, most of which are trees that are in that path, and they have to be out of that path. So, that some tress are going to be removed, some are going to be topped, some are going to be trimmed,” said Craig Hyre, president of the Elkins-Randolph County Regional Airport Authority. “And, we have some physical obstacles like a silo; one has to be removed.”
Airport officials stated that all that has been currently done is an assessment, and they have not entered into a structure removal phase. If the FAA approves the assessment, multiple phases could be carried out to complete the proposed project.
“We are concerned for our neighbors, who, if this assessment should be approved, they will be forced to take out several silos and a barn. And, they have been farming that area of the land for over half a century,” said Bonnie Branciaroli, a resident of the Beverly District abutting the airport.
Many of the residents who spoke stated they are concerned and would like to see a study by engineers of clear cutting and the impact of disrupting the wildlife, such as birds that use the trees during migration.