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‘Tall’ order

WINTON – The Hertford County Board of Commissioners have adopted a new ordinance in an effort to promote aviation safety in and around Tri-County Airport.

At their regularly scheduled meeting here Monday, the board, by a 5-0 vote, approved the Tri-County Airport Height Restriction Ordinance.

Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer, who also serves on the airport’s governing board, said the ordinance was state mandated.

“Since the airport is physically located in our county, it’s up to us to approve this ordinance,” said Farmer of the aviation facility that also serves Bertie and Northampton counties.

“What the ordinance does is prevent the building of tall structures within the flight path of the aircraft using Tri-County Airport,” Farmer explained. “The ordinance limits the height of cell towers and grain bins, and other such structures, inside that flight path.”

Based on a map accompanying the ordinance, the flight path of Tri-County Airport extends the greatest to the north and south of the facility. To the north, the flight path begins along US 158 between Conway and Murfreesboro. The southern end reaches nearly to Lewiston-Woodville.

The ordinance, which will be enforced by the Hertford County Building Inspector, allows for building permits within the airport’s flight path, but those permits are required to conform to the provisions of the ordinance.

No permit is required for structures less than 50 feet in height. The exception to that rule is when due to terrain, land contour or topographic features, the structure would extend greater than 50 feet in height.

The ordinance does contain a clause, which states that any person desiring to erect or increase the height of any structure not in accordance with the regulations may apply for a variance. The application for the variance must be accompanied by a determination from the NC Division of Aviation or the Federal Aviation Administration as to the effect of the proposal on the operation of air operation facilities and the safe, efficient use of navigable airspace. Applications for variances may require up to 45 days of study.

In accordance with North Carolina General Statutes, each violation of the ordinance (or any of its regulations) will constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $100 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both. Each day a violation continues to exist shall constitute a separate offense.

On a motion from Farmer, the ordinance was approved without objection.

In a subsequent discussion, Farmer told his fellow commissioners that due to the retirement of Hertford County Economic Development Director Bill Early, who also served as Chairman of the Tri-County Airport Authority, a seat on that governing entity needed to be filled. He recommended the appointment of Russell Joyner to fill that vacancy.

“The significance of appointing Mr. Joyner is he is a pilot,” Farmer noted. “He is involved in aviation. Appointing someone to this board who has knowledge of aviation is very helpful in conducting the business of Tri-County Airport.”

Farmer made the motion to appoint Joyner, which was approved without objection.

Later in the meeting, Farmer told the commissioners that three major projects are on tap at Tri-County Airport, to include a new terminal (at a cost of nearly $1 million), along with improvements to the facility’s water and electrical infrastructure. All of those projects are funded through state grants.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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