Coweta grounds ‘flying club’ proposal

For pilot Kevin Wendelberg, the idea of forming a private flying club and providing hangar space on his 152-acre property near Moreland was a proposal that did not fly with the Coweta County Commission. It was shot down by unanimous vote at the Aug. 20 meeting.

The special use permit requested by WeFly, Inc. was proposed to use the property with an existing grass airstrip to establish a private flying club with hangars, a clubhouse and pavilion available to club members. The property is zoned RC (Rural Conservation).

The proposal did not include establishing the grass airstrip since it had been in use as a private facility since 1989 and is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, Wendelberg said, noting that the request was for a private flying club and not to establish a public airport.

Wendelberg said the existing runway is located in the center of the 152-acre property, with much of the remaining acreage consisting of densely wooded areas. Wendelberg also noted that he was in agreement with the 17 conditions that accompanied the recommendation by county planning staff to approve the request.

More than half a dozen area residents spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting, with nearly all in opposition to the request. The reasons for the opposition tended to center on concerns relating to safety issues, the flight path and noise levels, questions about the number of hangars to be installed, commercializing a non-commercial area and potentially lowering property values.

Another resident noted that the airstrip had not been used in several years.

Wendelberg in his response to public comments said fuel would not be stored at the site and the runway would not be extended. He said the FAA approved the airstrip in 1989, adding that he has “every right” to use it.

“I could have subdivided the property and put 80 homes there,” Wendelberg said. “Is that what people would want?”

With that statement, someone from the audience yelled, “Go for it.”

Commissioner Tim Lassetter made a motion to deny the request. Prior to the motion Lassetter said Wendelberg has legal access to the property as an airstrip, adding that both Wendelberg and the residents opposed to the request were trying to be good neighbors.

The vote by commissioners to deny the special use request was unanimous.

Another request pertaining to the property was heard later during the meeting. Commissioners on a 3-2 vote approved a conditional use request that will allow a kennel to be established on a small portion of the 152-acre property.

The request included the construction of a 6,000 square-foot kennel for dogs and other small animals. As proposed, the kennel would accommodate a maximum of 39 animals.

The vote to approve the request was 3-2, with Lassetter and commissioners Al Smith and Paul Poole supporting the request and commissioners Rodney Brooks and Bob Blackburn in opposition.