A general transportation bill awaiting Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell's signature would provide protection and funding for certain privately owned, public-use airports in the state. The measure would grant the state the first opportunity to buy a privately owned airport to protect it from being closed. However, the bill extends that right only to private airports that have paved runways and a minimum of 5,000 annual operations. Those airports would also be eligible for 90-percent state funding of capital improvements, and the state's commissioner of transportation could purchase development rights around the airport to protect it from encroachment. A new airport zoning category also would be created to protect the airport's imaginary surfaces. "AOPA has worked with key legislators throughout the session to keep this issue alive because there are few legal options for protecting privately owned airports," said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. AOPA members in the Simsbury Flying Club at Simsbury Airport have been working to achieve protection for privately owned airports for several years. Rep. Kevin Witkos and Transportation Commissioner Ralph Carpenter also worked to see this bill through the legislature.
June 15, 2007