NEW JERSEY GENERAL AVIATION STUDY COMMISSION
Committee Room 16
State House Annex
Trenton, New Jersey
March 27, 1996
MEMBERS OF COMMISSION PRESENT:
John J. McNamara Jr., Esq., Chairman
Philip W. Engle
Peter S. Hines
Robert B. Yudin
(representing Gualberto Medina)
Huntley A. Lawrence
(representing Ben DeCosta)
Kevin J. Donahue
Office of Legislative Services
mjz: 1-228 (Internet edition 1997)
PHILIP W. ENGLE (Member of Commission): While we are waiting for Jack McNamara, why don't we call this meeting of the New Jersey General Aviation Study Commission to order. We will have a roll call.
Abe Abuchowski? (no response)
Assemblyman Richard Bagger? (no response)
Linda Castner? (no response)
Huntley Lawrence? Oh, he is on the way.
MR. ELLIOTT: Here.
MR. ENGLE: Phil Engle? Here.
Senator William Haines? (no response)
MR. HINES: Here.
MR. ENGLE: Bob Yudin?
MR. YUDIN: Here.
MR. ENGLE: Westley Jost? (no response)
Jack McNamara? (no response)
Suzanne Nagle? (no response)
Joseph Odenheimer? (no response)
Jack Penn? (no response)
Henry Rowan? (no response)
Fred Telling? (no response)
Okay. There is no correspondence, no Commission reports, and no old business will be considered this date. We will hear testimony, and first on the list is Mr. Dennis Yap, from Trenton-Robbinsville. Mr. Yap?
Before we get started, Mr. Yap, do you affirm that the testimony you are about to give is true, in accordance with the perjury laws of the State of New Jersey?
D E N N I S Y A P: Yes, I do.
MR. ENGLE: Okay.
We can show that Mr. Lawrence is here.
Do you have prepared testimony, Mr. Yap?
MR. YAP: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MEMBER OF COMMISSION: Excuse me, may I just have the spelling of the name?
MR. ENGLE: May we have the spelling of your name, please?
MR. YAP: The first name is Dennis, D-E-N-N-I S. Second name, last name, Yap, Y-A-P -- "P" as in Paul.
My name is Dennis Yap. I am an Airport Consultant. I was asked to come here on behalf of the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport. I am their engineer. We are planners and designers, specifically, of airports. We work at more than just the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport. We are consultants for the Woodbine Airport, the Camden County Airport, the Flying W Airport, Sky Manor Airport, and the Oldmans Airport.
MR. ENGLE: What is the name of your company?
MR. YAP: DY Consultants.
I have worked at several other airports in the State of New Jersey within the last five years, including Teterboro, on the last runway project.
The first thing I would like to say is, since my involvement in airports -- and I have been in it for about 13 years now -- I have experienced one of the biggest changes I have seen with New Jersey DOT, Division of Aeronautics. I think it is important that I say something about that. Especially with the addition of Jack Penn as the Executive Director and the establishment of the Division, I have seen a real change in attitude there. I feel with the additional funds made available through the Division, it has made my job a lot more pleasant, and easier.
One example was at Robbinsville Airport. During the last summer of this past year, we were in a master planning meeting. We always addressed the problem of the runway, which was delaminating, unraveling, and in poor condition. Basically, it was necessary to reconstruct that runway.
After that meeting, the Division was able to give us an approval to go ahead with that project -- within about a week after that meeting. We went through design. We went through bidders. We went through construction. We actually had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for that runway about two months after the date that we began talks about that runway. That was unheard of during the years that I was involved. I worked on a lot of Federal projects, and I have never seen a turnaround like that -- like I saw there. That project was approximately $500,000. The aviation community is really happy with the work that has been done out there, and really happy with what the Division of Aeronautics was able to provide.
Also, not only did they administrate the project, but they were also able to give us firsthand assistance out in the field. A lot of their personnel got very involved with the day-to-day operations. The State actually even provided testing labs for asphalt testing and temperature testing. So they provided additional services, which were able to speed up the process.
I just think that in these days when general aviation is really suffering as far as FAA participation on projects, the Division of Aeronautics is very timely and it is refreshing.
At most of the airports that I have dealt with I found two major concerns: The biggest concern is the business aspect of it. There is a major financial problem in running an airport. Revenues on airports are limited, and the types of ways you can make money, you know-- There are fuel, "T" hangers, rentals, but the operating costs far outweigh the revenues that are available to a small general aviation airport.
Before I was involved with Robbinsville -- well, actually, during my involvement with Robbinsville, there were two or three owners that I went through. They just could not support the Airport because of the lack of business at the Airport. A lot of times they had difficulty in improving the Airport, because they could not come up with their sponsor's share on a lot of grants and improvements. When you are talking about a $1 million project, a State project, you are looking for an enormous-- Sometimes you have to spend $100,000, and that is not something you can do on a daily basis.
This is not just with private owners. I have been dealing with Woodbine Airport, which is run by the Port Authority. Every month that I go to their Port Authority meeting, they are talking about a couple of thousand dollars left in their checkbook, you know. This is a real difficult situation.
At the Flying W, I have gone through two owners.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Yap, did you say the Port Authority on that?
MR. YAP: The Woodbine Port Authority. I'm sorry. (laughter)
MR. ENGLE: Okay.
MR. YAP: We would be in big trouble if it was the New York/New Jersey Port Authority.
The Flying W Airport: They have just changed owners. The owners before them went bankrupt. When I got involved, there was a group called the FDIC Corporation. Now the FDIC Corporation found that they cannot support the Airport, and they sold it to another company by the name of Cave Holdings, Inc., which is a big equipment supplies company. They have the capability. But there is no question that you have to have a decent financial background to really run an airport.
One of the major expenses I find on airports -- when talking to the airports is the maintenance involved, things like cutting the grass, snow removal, and things of that sort. Of course, the major cost up front is the acquisition of this equipment. Sometimes this equipment can, you know, can get up to nearly $100,000. Again, when you keep talking about $100,000, that is a lot of money for small investors.
My thoughts on this are that maybe there are areas where we could be of assistance to small airport owners. Maybe there could be business seminars for airport owners on how to operate the business from an operations standpoint. Maybe there could be a little bit more assistance as far as grants available for purchasing equipment or handling snow removal, like the last winter we had this past year.
One thing that always seems to pop up is, everyone is looking to build "T" hangers in New Jersey, because there is quite a demand for them. But, again, it costs a lot of money to build these "T" hangers. I know the present grant process does not include the erection of "T" hangers, because they are not, I guess, public facilities. If there is a possibility for grants for things like that to help the financial viability of an airport and actually preserve airports in New Jersey -- which is a big problem these days -- that would be of assistance to a lot of airports that I talk to.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Yap, at Trenton-Robbinsville, do they still maintain that golf course as part of the Airport?
MR. YAP: Yes, they do. They own the golf course and the Airport. The owner is looking into making the Airport a separate corporation, or entity. But it is the same owner as the golf course. Some of the maintenance crew on the golf course actually help to maintain the Airport, too. That is why they have such nice grass at the Airport.
MR. YUDIN: Who is the owner?
MR. YAP: The owner of the golf course-- It is called the Spring Garden Country Club. They do business as the Mighty Run Country Club.
MR. YUDIN: But an individual owns the golf course and the Airport, right?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. YUDIN: What is that individual's name?
MR. YAP: Well, the person I deal with the most is Mark Santerian. It is his family.
MR. YUDIN: The Santerian family?
MR. YAP: The Santerian family.
MR. YUDIN: How do you spell that?
MR. YAP: S-A-N-T-E-R-I-A-N.
MR. YUDIN: Okay.
MR. ELLIOTT: Do they have any previous experience in operating airports?
MR. YAP: The owner is a pilot. As far as operating an airport, no. They rely on me quite a bit. I do everything for them as far as the grant process. We help them out as much as we can.
MR. ELLIOTT: What services do they currently offer? Do they have fuel and maintenance?
MR. YAP: They have fuel. They have storage areas for planes. A new FBO just moved in there. I forget the name of the actual operation. It is run by Ted Peshell (phonetic spelling), I believe his name is. Steve Pecarin has an antique aircraft hanger out there. And they have a painting facility out at the Airport under Reese's Aircraft. That is basically what they have right now.
MR. ELLIOTT: Do they operate a flight school?
MR. YAP: Oh, I'm sorry, yes, Ken Morrison's group just moved into the Airport also. They have a flight school there. Actually, it is pretty busy, now that I talk about it. Glen Wood has some sort of a charter system, I believe, out of the middle hanger there.
MR. ELLIOTT: What is Ken Morrison's background? Where is he from?
MR. YAP: He came from the Flying W. From what I know of it, he has a very large flight school. From what I hear, one of the largest in the Northeast.
Traffic has built up since the new runway/new taxiway has been built.
MR. ELLIOTT: What name does he operate his flight school under?
MR. YAP: The sign says "Ken Morrison's." I always hear them call "Ken Marski." I don't know if there is a difference, or whatever, but the sign in front says "Ken Morrison's."
MR. LAWRENCE: Mr. Yap, are you the same Dennis Yap, a transplant, from 708 Bird Avenue?
MR. YAP: Yes. How do you know I am a transplant?
MR. LAWRENCE: Well, I used to work with you a few years ago.
MR. YAP: Oh, is that right? Okay. It's a small world.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Yudin?
MR. YUDIN: How many aircraft are hangered, or are there permanently at this Airport?
MR. YAP: The last count we had it was 55, primarily exclusively small airplanes, 12,500 pounds or less.
MR. YUDIN: How many acres-- The Airport property is how many acres?
MR. YAP: I believe the number is 28 acres.
MR. YUDIN: Twenty-eight?
MR. YAP: Twenty-eight.
MR. YUDIN: On those 28 acres, what is the property tax?
MR. YAP: I can't tell you that. I don't know that.
MR. YUDIN: Is that a piece of information you could secure and forward to this Commission?
MR. YAP: I would have to speak to my client about it, but I will inquire about it.
MR. YUDIN: Would it be proper to ask for that information? And if your client is unwilling to give you that information, would you please send us a letter stating that your client does not want to?
MR. YAP: Sure.
MR. YUDIN: Then we might want to call in the owner to secure that information.
MR. YAP: Okay.
MR. ENGLE: You can get back to me on that, Mr. Yap.
MR. YAP: Okay.
MR. YUDIN: This might be a rhetorical question, but you would have no idea whether the Airport is showing a profit or not, or at least breaking even?
MR. YAP: I would have a hard time believing that they are breaking even or making a profit, especially with the investment he made last year. He put in, on that last runway project-- I think his amount was $60,000.
MR. ELLIOTT: How long has the current owner had that Airport -- when it changed hands last?
MR. YAP: I am going to estimate that it has been two years.
MR. ELLIOTT: How long has Morrison been operating?
MR. YAP: I think he has been there since-- I think it has been since August of 1995, approximately.
MR. ELLIOTT: Is he the FBO, or does he just run the flight school?
MR. YAP: No, he just runs the flight school there. He is very interested in expanding his aircraft out there. He has actually talked to the owner about making building another hanger specifically for him.
MR. ELLIOTT: What is the name of the FBO there?
MR. YAP: The owner's name is Ted Peshell. He came from South Jersey. I think the name is Aviation Charters, but I am not positive about that.
MR. ELLIOTT: That's the FBO, do you mean?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. ELLIOTT: Aviation Charters?
MR. YAP: Right.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Hines?
MR. HINES: Mr. Yap, you make several suggestions here -- training of the airport management, grounds for equipment, and grounds for some structures. Do you have any other suggestions, any other recommendations -- specific ones?
MR. YAP: Well, I am also finding that a lot of the owners are having a difficult time coming up with the sponsor's share on New Jersey State grants, which is typically 10 percent. Some of my clients have actually-- I understand under the statute that they have the right to submit letters of hardship, financial hardship. I believe the State is going to act on some of them, but I think that would be a great assistance.
MR. HINES: Any other specific ones?
MR. YAP: That is what I see right now.
MR. HINES: Let's get back to the runway improvement that you mentioned before with such a quick turnaround. What was the cost of that improvement?
MR. YAP: It was approximately $560,000.
MR. HINES: Five hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Was that a permanent fix to that runway?
MR. YAP: It is not a permanent fix, it is an overlay. It was an overlay of the runway. I say it is not a permanent fix for the reason that we have a real grade problem out there -- a line-of-sight problem out at Trenton-Robbinsville. At the same time, we found it to be an emergency need, too, because there was a lot of foreign object damage being done to aircraft out there. So we overlaid, we rehabilitated that runway.
At the present moment, we are working on the master plan for the Airport.
MR. HINES: I thought you were. That is what I was leading to. So at some point in time, that runway will have to be totally--
MR. YAP: Probably regraded, probably sometime in-- I mean, not in the short term probably. I am thinking seven to eight years from now.
MR. HINES: You keep referring to grants and the hardship, of course, of the fixed base opeerators, which is very true. We all know that who have been in the business.
Why waste grants? Why not low-interest loans, a program of low-interest loans?
MR. YAP: Oh, yes, I have that written down here. Low-interest loans would do it, yes. Grants would be best, but low-interest loans would help too. As a matter of fact, my client down in Woodbine is, right now, presently, erecting -- possibly signing a contract to build "T" hangers. He had to go out and get a commercial loan at something like 7 percent or 8 percent. It makes it very difficult when you are trying to rent out "T" hangers and trying to make it financially make sense to the airport. Low-interest loans would help quite a bit.
MR. HINES: Has your client approached commercial lending institutions for money?
MR. YAP: Trenton-Robbinsville?
MR. HINES: Yes.
MR. YAP: No, not that I am aware of.
MR. HINES: Thank you.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Yudin?
MR. YUDIN: You mentioned that you are a consultant to other airports.
MR. YAP: Right.
MR. YUDIN: Now, in the case of this Airport -- Trenton-Robbinsville -- an FBO is running the Airport, so it is basically, as far as the owner is concerned-- It is absentee ownership.
Now, the other airports that you consult with, are they absentee owners also, or are there some where the owner is actually operating the airport?
MR. YAP: I would say there--
MR. YUDIN: Because you mentioned -- let me tie it in -- that one of the things -- and it is a good suggestion -- would be seminars on how to operate airports. But if the owners are not there to operate the airports, and they are absentee owners and playing musical chairs with FBOs, as seems to be the case here, the purpose of the seminars would decrease.
Try to draw a picture for me, as a consultant who has dealt with a number of airports, are you finding that most of them are absentee ownerships?
MR. YAP: No, I'm not. I find that if they are-- Trenton-Robbinsville is a bit of an extreme situation. If they are not present, there is usually someone they assign as an Airport manager. I feel that if they sent who they designate as their Airport manager, which typically is a fairly long term position, it would be helpful. These seminars would be-- You know, I don't look for them to be once in five years. I would like to see them happen every year as some sort of an annual event. It would be a good open forum for people to give input on their problems and how they can work things out.
I also just want to say a few things about what I have run across as far as dealing with the environmental agencies while we are trying to work on a few projects in New Jersey. I have a strong respect for preserving the environment, especially these days with the concern about water quality. It is very important to look out for our environment, but at the same time, I feel there should be some sort of a sense of priorities and common sense on some projects.
I have dealt a lot with obstruction removal projects, where we are talking about removing obstructions to the approaches to runways. I mean, I find that it is quite important if we are going to talk about the safety of pilots and saving lives. So often you hear of accidents on approaches to runways. I understand there is a Memorandum of Understanding, which the Division of Aeronautics has with DEP, but my experience has been that whenever you deal with DEP, they are not well aware of this Memorandum of Understanding. We almost start from scratch. We have to check with other colleagues within their group, and we still go through a fairly extensive process. We also spend quite a bit of time, and time, obviously, is money. Unfortunately, it is at the taxpayers of New Jersey's expense, because a lot of times this money is being spent on consulting or fees which are coming from New Jersey grants.
I have run into systems-- We have done some very exotic types of designs to minimize impacts on wetlands. We have actually designed pully systems to cut trees down and have them pullied through this forest area, just to get them out without disturbing the wetlands. We have had situations where we have had to spec out that you can't put any equipment out in these wetlands, so contractors are coming up with proposals of bringing in animals to pull out logs. What typically happens is that they do it by hand with chain saws. It probably triples the time of doing a project that could be done a lot quicker.
Obviously, once that happens, construction costs go up quite a bit. It is an incredible expense. An amazing amount of time is used going through this, and it causes a lot of aggravation to the airports. I have also experienced airports going through a legal process to deal with this. From my standpoint, you know, you want to take steps to protect our environment, but we also want to be a little bit reasonable and maybe have some sort of special guidelines for dealing with the safety of human life.
MR. ENGLE: Do you find that that has improved at all since Mr. Penn has been in the Division of Aeronautics?
MR. YAP: Well, yes. This Memorandum of Understanding has helped for the trees. Instead of going through what they usually call an individual permit, we have been able to do it through what they call a statewide general permit. But again, until you talk to the DEP people, I guess, especially at the engineering level-- If you are not talking at the level I guess Mr. Penn may be talking to them at, people are not aware of it, and there is a lot of redoing of things to get things done. However, I do think it has helped quite a bit. It has made projects doable.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Hines?
MR. HINES: Mr. Yap, specifically about the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport, how many employees are there? Do you have any idea, with all the tenants you have?
MR. YAP: How many employees the owner has?
MR. HINES: No, no, with all the tenants? How many people earn their living there at the Airport approximately? It is difficult to know, I guess.
MR. YAP: I would say probably 35 to 40.
MR. HINES: Forty people?
MR. YAP: Forty tenants.
MR. HINES: The property taxes are a matter of public record, so that should be easy to come by. But how about the community? How do they accept your--
MR. YAP: My involvement, through the master planning process at the Technical Advisory Committee, has been very positive all along.
MR. HINES: Do you have cooperation from the community?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. HINES: The local governing body?
MR. YAP: Yes. It is a very nice situation in Robbinsville. The community is well behind the Airport.
MR. HINES: Very supportive.
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. HINES: That's fine.
MR. ENGLE: Do they have a community advisory committee in the master plan?
MR. YAP: Yes. They supplied a town engineer, but committee people have come out to the Airport and shown their support for the Airport. Ms. Rosemary Premic (phonetic spelling) was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony just recently.
I have one other issue on environmentalists. There is a requirement to remove underground storage tanks. A lot of my clients have sort of inherited these underground tanks. The removal of these tanks is very expensive. A lot of them have asked me to come here and talk about some sort of financial relief to assist them -- financially assisting them in either the removal or the remediation of these tanks.
I understand that there are low-interest loans available for the removal, but my experience with that is that they are fairly limited. There is quite a long waiting list on them.
That's all I have.
MR. ENGLE: Are there any other questions?
MR. YUDIN: Getting back to the community and the support the community gives you, the immediate neighbors-- From the shot of the Airport, it looks like there are a number of homes that are pretty close to the runway. Do you get many complaints, noise complaints, things of that nature?
MR. YAP: I haven't gotten any noise complaints, and I have been involved at the Airport for four years now. One of the houses across from-- I don't know how many of you know this Airport, but one of the houses across from the middle hanger-- We have a rotating beacon there that occasionally would-- At night, it shines on his house. He was very cordial. He came up to us and talked to us a little bit about that. The Airport was able to put up a screen so that the light would not shine on his house. He was very thankful for that. That has been my only involvement as far as the adjacent home owners are concerned.
MR. YUDIN: How many hangers are there?
MR. YAP: He has three rows of "T" hangers and he has five conventional hangers. Two of them are housing Pecarin's operation, one of them for the paint shop, one of them for the school, and one of them for the FBO.
MR. YUDIN: You have been consulting with them for about four years, you said?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. YUDIN: During that period of time you have had some instances of construction where you have had to go to the town Planning Board for their input, their approval? That's a question.
MR. YAP: The first construction project was the one we just completed this last summer, the runway and the taxiway.
MR. YUDIN: When you went to the municipality for their input, they were cooperative?
MR. YAP: Yes. Let me back off of that. I'm sorry. We had a (indiscernible) project also. We went to the building inspector, and he was very supportive.
MR. YUDIN: Did you have to go and do a site plan?
MR. YAP: He accepted the plans and specifications we put together for the project and the application associated with it.
The town has been supportive of a couple of things. I don't call it a construction project, but right now we are cutting trees to the approach of the Airport. We have been involved with the township, and I have not had any opposition at all. I mean, they have been very professional and alerted us of every requirement we needed to make. So far, we have not had any holdups from the local standpoint.
MR. YUDIN: Okay. Thank you.
JOHN J. McNAMARA JR., ESQ.: Mr. Yap, I am Jack McNamara.
MR. YAP: Hello. How are you?
MR. McNAMARA: I apologize for my tardiness this morning. Being Chairman of this Commission, I have just about as many hours of administrative work as hearing work. I was tied up this morning with some of the former.
I did not hear all of your testimony. I don't mean to ask you to repeat anything you have covered on the record, because we will be able to review that from the transcript. However, there are some things that are very important and I don't want to take a chance that they have not been covered.
What municipality are you located in?
MR. YAP: I am the consultant for the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: I understand that. But it is located in Trenton itself?
MR. YAP: Oh, I'm sorry. We deal with Washington Township.
MR. McNAMARA: So its physical location is in Washington Township. Does it border on other townships? Is it within a mile of the border of--
MR. YAP: The address for the Airport is Robbinsville, New Jersey, but we have been dealing with Washington Township.
MR. McNAMARA: Is Robbinsville an entity that isn't necessarily a political entity located within Washington Township? Is it a separate political entity?
MR. YAP: To be honest with you, I don't know.
MR. McNAMARA: But you do know that Washington Township is at least your host township?
MR. YAP: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have any kind of a committee -- an Airport committee -- that includes representatives of at least Washington Township, as well as representatives from your Airport?
MR. YAP: Yes. We have a Technical Advisory Committee that includes the township, a representative from the county, a representative from New Jersey DOT, a representative from the FAA, and a representative of the owner.
MR. McNAMARA: Say it again. The township , New Jersey DOT, the FAA, and the Airport owner. Is that it?
MR. YAP: The county also. Did you say the county?
MR. McNAMARA: And the county. That would be Mercer County?
MR. YAP: Yes. Joe McKelvey has been sitting in at our meetings, the Airport Manager for Trenton-Mercer.
MR. McNAMARA: How is the owner represented, in person or by counsel or by more than counsel, engineers-- How is he represented?
MR. YAP: Well, he is represented in person and by myself.
MR. McNAMARA: You are an engineer?
MR. YAP: Yes. I am a planner and an engineer.
MR. McNAMARA: From where?
MR. YAP: From what consulting firm? From DY Consultants.
MR. McNAMARA: Key Y?
MR. YAP: DY.
MR. ENGLE: "D" delta.
MR. McNAMARA: DY Consultants.
MR. YAP: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: I apologize. Two many years around jet engines.
MR. YAP: That's okay.
MR. McNAMARA: Does that Technical Advisory Committee handle complaints from neighbors of the Airport, residential neighbors or commercial neighbors of the Airport?
MR. YAP: That committee is primarily there for their involvement in the ongoing master plan. No, they are not there for noise complaints. Someone asked previously had we gotten many noise complaints. I have been there for four years as a consultant, and I am not aware of any noise complaints at the Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: You do not perceive that noise is perceived as a nuisance by any of your neighbors in any township, by anyone in the Airport area?
MR. YAP: Not at the present moment. The approaches on the 29 end come over the golf course -- the owner's golf course, the owner of the Airport's golf course -- and the 11 end comes over an area that is not occupied at the moment, where we have just trimmed some trees back on the approach. The only area where I could perceive complaints in the future may be north of the Airport, where there are some residences that parallel the runway.
MR. McNAMARA: How do you perceive your relationship with the township? Is it a good relationship?
MR. YAP: A good relationship.
MR. McNAMARA: How does it perceive its relationship with the Airport?
MR. YAP: Good, I believe.
MR. McNAMARA: And communications between you and the township are open?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Any concerns can be freely exchanged and discussed?
MR. YAP: Yes. My main contact with the town is through the town engineer, but he assures me that he talks to the committee people in the township on a regular basis. One of the committee persons was at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for the overlay of the runway, which was just completed in, I guess it was November of 1995.
MR. McNAMARA: I'm sure you covered this, but very quickly, Trenton-Robbinsville's runways are what length?
MR. YAP: It is 4275 feet total, but they have displaced thresholds at 400 feet and 300 feet.
MR. McNAMARA: So your takeoff distance is close to 5000 feet?
MR. YAP: Four-thousand two-hundred and seventy-five feet is the total distance of the runway.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, but the displaced thresholds are subtracted from that?
MR. YAP: That's right.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
Are there any plans to expand that runway?
MR. YAP: No.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there any plans for a crosswind?
MR. YAP: No.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the orientation?
MR. YAP: It's northeast. I'm sorry, it's west to east.
MR. McNAMARA: Zero nine two seven?
MR. YAP: Eleven two nine.
MR. McNAMARA: Eleven twenty-nine?
MR. YAP: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: Northwest, actually -- southeast, northwest. What is your prevailing wind?
MR. YAP: It is in that same direction, actually. In an initial look at the wind analysis, you will have 95 percent coverage for crosswinds in the direction the runway is right now.
MR. McNAMARA: For cross-- I don't follow that.
MR. YAP: The way the runway is oriented right now, it is pretty much in line with the prevailing winds.
MR. McNAMARA: It is?
MR. YAP: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
I am sure you covered some of this before. I don't mean to hold you any longer.
Are there other questions for this witness? (no response)
We want to thank you very much for coming down today, for taking the time to do so, enlightening us with your testimony.
MR. YAP: I appreciate the time. Thank you for having me here.
MR. McNAMARA: Is John Bickel here? (affirmative response from audience) Mr. Bickel, would you please come forward?
Mr. White, on your agenda-- You are receiving our agendas now, aren't you?
MR. WHITE (Hearing Reporter): That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Bickel is not set forth on the agenda. Mr. Bickel is the Township Engineer for Old Mans Township. Is that correct, Mr. Bickel?
J O H N F. B I C K E L, P.E.: I think you can say Oldmans as one word.
MR. McNAMARA: Oldmans.
MR. BICKEL: When you say "Old Man," I take that as a personal attack.
MR. McNAMARA: Yes, but you are in good company. (laughter)
Mr. Bickel, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is true, under the law of perjury of the State of New Jersey?
MR. BICKEL: Yes, I do.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you very much.
Do you have a prepared statement, sir?
MR. YUDIN: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. Could Mr. Bickel spell his last name?
MR. MCNAMARA: It's B-I-C-K-E-L. Is that correct?
MR. BICKEL: That's right. John F. Bickel.
No, I do not have a prepared statement. In fact, I was asked to come here by the Mayor. A couple of days ago, he handed me the letter that was sent to him in January, with his handwritten comments on it. I don't think I need to repeat those, because you probably have those in front of you.
MR. McNAMARA: I don't mind if you cover them. Not everyone has that in front of them. Those have gone to the appropriate subcommittee, and they are still sorting that out.
MR. BICKEL: Well, in fact, sitting and talking to Mr. Yap just before the meeting, I think I learned more about Oldmans Airport than I ever knew in my life. So maybe he should be testifying about Oldmans. But I think the difference in the testimony between--
MR. McNAMARA: Why would he know about Oldmans?
MR. BICKEL: Because he is consulting to them now.
MR. McNAMARA: As well as to Trenton-Robbinsville?
MR. BICKEL: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Have we already received testimony on Oldmans?
MR. ENGLE: No.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. BICKEL: I don't think he said anything-- He just mentioned that he is consulting to them. I am just saying, with my having an opportunity to talk to him before the meeting, I learned some things that I didn't know about the Airport.
My testimony is going to be a little bit different. I am the municipality relating to you our relationship with the Airport and what the Airport means now and what it could mean to us in the future.
I am not an elected official, but my history in the township has been that since I am more readily available than the elected officials, I get these opportunities and responsibilities. For instance, tomorrow I will be in Fort Dix, because I am involved in the Army base closure in Oldmans Township. Being old and available, I guess, makes a difference.
Just to remind myself exactly of the situation at Oldmans Airport -- I don't know if you have pictures here -- I stopped by again yesterday, and let me repeat to you the conditions there. There is one hanger that looks like it is a repair shop. I consider that to be in fair condition. I saw sitting there five private planes. None of them would I consider suitable to be flying. In fact, one of them had no engine.
MR. McNAMARA: There were five-- Did you say fighter planes?
MR. BICKEL: No, private.
MR. McNAMARA: Private planes.
MR. BICKEL: Yes. Maybe they are fighters, but I think they are just private planes.
MR. McNAMARA: And that repair shop would be for aircraft maintenance?
MR. BICKEL: That is what it looked like to me, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you.
MR. BICKEL: There is one house on the property.
MR. McNAMARA: A residence?
MR. BICKEL: Yes. I didn't know for sure what that was. Again, I am going back to Mr. Yap. He reminded me that that is where the owner lives, or the son of the owner, or something like that.
There is one hanger. To me, it looked like it has about nine spaces for aircraft. One set of doors was open and there was a small plane in there. There were some people in there working on it. That is in fair condition. What I am saying is, it looked like it could use a lot of help.
Then, next to the runway, there were 11 private aircraft sitting there. The runway -- and I am not an airport type of guy -- to me, I would call it in fair condition, because the grass was growing up to the blacktop in some areas. Having spent eight years flying over 100,000 of commercial aircraft, I did not like runways that had grass growing up through them.
Now, I will go to the letter to relate to you the concerns of the municipality with the Airport and our relationships with the Airport. In fact, listening to Mr. Yap helped me a little bit as to what sort of things you might want to hear. I am readily available for any questions you may ask..
I am not going to go to every comment, because a lot of them are "none" or "no comment." I think the first one, the economic contribution-- At this point, the economic contribution is negative. If you have this letter-- The Mayor's last comment was, "The Airport has a history for failure to pay its taxes to the municipality. The State has bailed it out twice, $115,000-plus in back taxes and interest charges.
Now, maybe that is going to let you know what I am going to say further. But by the same token, this Airport is in a small county, but it is the only Airport in the county, and there is a major industrial park not tremendously far north of the Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the county?
MR. BICKEL: Salem County.
MR. McNAMARA: Salen County.
MR. BICKEL: You know, the population of the county is about 65,000 people. I might comment that it is a 3 percent sales tax county. The population of Oldmans Township is about 1800.
I am not here begging for grants or low-cost loans. I think I am here more to find out what can the township be doing, and what kind of support can they get from other agencies. Maybe that is why we are here. If so, I would be the first to say that we want to help, and we want to be involved.
At this point, it is probably safe for me to say that recognition is very little. I would suspect that most people didn't even know that Salem County has an Airport. And if you call it the Oldmans Airport, they know that less that they did that there was a Salem County.
Our concerns are that-- In fact, the Mayor, in Statement 6, says, "You are liable to see a change in ownership." Well, again, thanks to Mr. Yap, I am finding out that that is sort of taking place. I think it is owned by the Kurtz family and they are trying to do something to help their son revitalize the Airport. I am not sure of that, but that is what Mr. Yap told me, and I think he is an honest man. If he is their consultant, he has a better opportunity to know more than I do.
To answer-- Maybe I can get ahaead with some questions I am contemplating because of what you asked Mr. Yap. I am not sure of the size of the Airport. Looking at it yesterday, it appeared to me that it is about 20 acres. I do know that -- as I have stated -- the tax situation has not been good. If you want to know the taxes that are charged per year there, I can get that information for you. I do not have that with me. If you are interested in how the property is assessed, I will be glad to give you that information.
MR. McNAMARA: We would appreciate that, sir, if you could simply submit that.
MR. BICKEL: Do you want me to send that to Mr. Engle?
MR. McNAMARA: If you would. That would be sufficient, yes.
MR. BICKEL: Having heard that, that was of interest to me also, because--
Question 8 in this letter was, "Is there a master plan?" and we do not know. Most of those where the Mayor has answered either "not applicable," or that he does not know-- What I am stressing there is the relationship between the Airport and the township. In my mind, it is negligible. There is just no relationship that I know of. There is no group of a township committee or township personnel that works with the Airport personnel. My guess would be that if that is going to take place, I will be the one to initiate it when I get back from this meeting. I think it would be a good idea. I don't see any reason for that not to be taking place.
MR. McNAMARA: Is the Airport well received in the township?
MR. BICKEL: There are no complaints about the Airport. I would think that the township would encourage development of it. In fact, the Mayor's comments were that sort of thing. "Should it be encouraged to grow?" He said, "Yes, carefully and cautiously," that meaning sensibly. There is the 13th question: "Do you feel that the number of aircraft based at the Airport are too many?" "No." The correct capacity for the Airport? Maybe less that it is, but I only saw about 18 airplanes there. I do not believe that is too many for that Airport. So "Should it be encouraged to grow?" "Yes," and I feel the same way.
MR. McNAMARA: Why should it be encouraged to grow? What use can this Airport be to the township?
MR. BICKEL: It is the closest Airport to the Pureland Industrial Park, which is just north of this Airport. It is in Gloucester County -- the Pureland Industrial Park.
MR. McNAMARA: Pureland?
MR. BICKEL: Pureland Industrial Park, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: How do you spell Pureland?
MR. BICKEL: Pure.
MR. McNAMARA: Bure?
MR. BICKEL: It's "P."
MR. McNAMARA: Pure?
MR. BICKEL: Yes, something to do with the nice lady Purity.
That is a major industrial park, and it is growing. As I mentioned, I am involved in the base closure of Camp Pedricktown. The township will be receiving 63 acres of land and some buildings. One of our purposes is to develop that into an industrial park, and that park is about a mile away from the Airport.
Now, it seems to me that if you have a reasonable airport, there are industries that prefer to have someplace to land small aircraft. The closest place to us is the Wilmington Airport. Now that is about 15 miles. If you have an airport a mile away from where you are going to build your factory, I would think you would be encouraged to support that airport. That might help us to market the Army base to bring industry in there. Maybe this is somewhat recent, but by the same token, what does it matter when it is that we want to encourage the development of the Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: We have had substantial testimony. In fact, we had one expert here yesterday -- a real estate expert -- who advised us that there are certain industries that look to develop on tracts or in industrial parks that have airports as part of them. Those industries include all of the high-tech industries, as well as industries that manufacture small but vital parts -- how did he refer to them? -- industries that are in distribution, where they keep a store of parts that, for the want of an assembly line, could be shut down. He mentioned several others.
So it is very possible that what you are saying would be correct. Any kind of a business that is processing checks, such as a bank or credit card company, is moving all of those hard copies by air. It has an important economic impact on their operation to move them very quickly. He said, also, that people involved in foreign trade are anxious to be located near airports to bring their customers quickly to their facilities from the major airports to which they would travel when coming to this country.
So you are correct to suspect-- According to him, you would be correct to suspect that the development of this park, or the development of this Airport would assist in the development of those industrial parks.
I just mention that as a bit of encouragement as you go on with your testimony.
MR. BICKEL: It sounds like you read my report to the Army about the usage of the base. Those are some of the things that I have encouraged for the development of the base, one of them being the storage of bank records. You know, that being brought on by the fire in Philadelphia several years ago. I know of a major law firm that did not have any storage outside of their building, and weren't allowed to build any for a year.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the base have an airport on it?
MR. BICKEL: No, it doesn't. It has a helicopter pad. That is strictly for military use. But there is a helicopter pad that the township will -- that will become part of the property if the township takes over.
Again with the industrial park: I have seen reports in recent years where they consider 295 south of Camden as the 202 of New Jersey, 202 being the King of Prussia area of Pennsylvania, because there are wide-open areas and we have major roadways. The New Jersey Turnpike, 295, and 130 go through Oldmans Township. There are exits on every one of those roads in Oldmans Township. Real estate people have stated to me that when the development moves south of Gloucester County, it is going to move right into Oldmans Township.
So I don't want the owners of our Airport to feel that the township is against them. Apparently it is not, or they would not have waited for all those back taxes and waited for them to find some way to pay them. The township could have taken over the Airport. We are not interested in owning properties that do not pay taxes. We would rather have properties that are owned by someone else and are paying the taxes.
I think the other comments I have pretty much covered on the basis that this is a small municipality that can use every enhancement that is possible with anything that is within the municipality. We have some very good industries: B.F. Goodrich, Geon. They are major industries within the township. They are very, very helpful to the township.
Again, the Airport, whether it generates increased taxes or at least has the strength to support itself, is very important to the township.
MR. McNAMARA: Does this Airport have the ability to extend its runways? I know it has one runway set up pretty close to what looks to be a major divided highway there. What is that highway?
MR. BICKEL: That's I-295.
MR. McNAMARA: That's 295?
MR. BICKEL: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: And it is right near an exit to 295.
MR. BICKEL: Yes, it is.
I don't think they could extend the runway, because I think they are a bit landlocked, not unless some farmer adjacent to them wanted to sell some land. There is a truck stop alongside of it also.
MR. McNAMARA: It appears that 295 is immediately north of the runway and almost parallel to it.
MR. BICKEL: Parallel, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: And that there are extensive farmers' fields going to the east and the south of the runway.
MR. BICKEL: That's right.
MR. McNAMARA: Such that there would be the land if the Airport wanted to purchase the land and extend its runway. You could put in a facility that might double the length of this runway and give you a crosswind runway.
MR. BICKEL: Yes. Assuming that land is available, that's right. It is straight in line with the runway and could be used to extend the runway.
MR. McNAMARA: And it is not developed currently?
MR. BICKEL: No, it is not developed. No.
MR. McNAMARA: You don't know what your prevailing wind is in that area, do you?
MR. BICKEL: Prevailing rate?
MR. McNAMARA: Prevailing wind.
MR. BICKEL: No, I don't. No.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. BICKEL: I could find out, but I am not prepared to answer that.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there other questions of Mr. Bickel? Mr. Yudin?
MR. YUDIN: Just a point of information. You mentioned that your country has a 3 percent sales tax. The whole country has--
MR. BICKEL: Yes, the entire county. Yes.
MR. YUDIN: What is that, through special legislation?
MR. BICKEL: Yes. I think there are two counties in the State. I believe they are Salem and Cumberland.
MR. McNAMARA: That is an economic-- Are you familiar with that, Bob?
MR. YUDIN: I know it is not an Urban Enterprise Zone. I was just trying to understand the legislation that made that county 3 percent.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, is it not an Urban Enterprise Zone -- the whole county?
MR. YUDIN: I don't think so. It must be special legislation.
MR. BICKEL: Yes, it is.
MR. YUDIN: I don't think it is a UEZ, the whole county.
MR. BICKEL: I am not sure about that.
MR. YUDIN: How long has it been 3 percent?
MR. BICKEL: This is either the second or third year.
MR. YUDIN: I'll find out this afternoon.
MR. BICKEL: It was done to try to -- well, help the residents and try to enhance business.
MR. ELLIOTT: What is the condition of the Airport facilities now, the runway, whatever structures that exist there? Can you address that?
MR. McNAMARA: He addressed that just a little while ago.
MR. BICKEL: In my opinion--
MR. ELLIOTT: Oh, I'm sorry.
MR. McNAMARA: He said it is in fair condition, meaning that it could be a lot better, because there is grass growing up in the runway. He said there are two hangers, one maintenance and one storage, and they are in fairly good condition.
What is the road like going into the Airport and the parking area for automobiles and the access to I-295?
MR. BICKEL: The access to I-295 is on the Strongs Mill Road, which is a good road. Then there is a paved entrance to the Airport. For some strange reason, as you get to the end of that paved entrance and you are right at the Airport, there is a strip between there and where you go to the parking lot that is not paved. I am not sure why that ever happened. The parking area is just a stoned area. It is not a paved area. I mean, it is not unlivable. It isn't that terribly bad.
MR. McNAMARA: Is there a terminal there for passengers to be received in any form?
MR. BICKEL: No, not that I could identify as such.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. Thank you.
MR. HINES: Several questions, sir. The land use in your township, sir, Olden Township it is, right?
MR. BICKEL: Oldmans Township.
MR. HINES: What is the land use there? Is it pretty much rural, or do you have residential areas, large residential areas? How would you describe your area?
MR. BICKEL: Oldmans Township is basically rural. As I say, there are 1800 residents. We have, basically, two -- three small communities: the community of Pedricktown, where the Township Municipal Building is; the community of Alburn, which has 51 homes that are served by the Water Company there; and then there is another small community called Kay Gardens. Kay Gardens has about 50 homes.
MR. HINES: From your comments, sir, you feel you are in a geographic location where an airport properly developed would be a very definite economic contributor to your community?
MR. BICKEL: That's right. I do feel that way.
MR. HINES: If that could be accomplished-- There is usually community participation in many of these grants. With such a small population, and what have you, how do you feel abouta 5 percent or 10 percent contribution to a development project?
MR. BICKEL: Well, my personal feeling is that I would be in favor of it. I would have no problem with taking that to the committee. I can tell you, we just received a road grant for Kay Gardens, and that was for $153,000. The municipality's contribution could be more than 10 percent, because on those road grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the municipality must pay for the engineering. I am a low-cost engineer, but by the same token, it would be more than 10 percent. They had no problem contributing to that.
They have just received a $200,000 grant, and it is a housing assistance program where homes within the community of families who cannot afford to repair or replace their roofs, can get money from this grant, and it does not have to be paid back until the home is sold. The municipality is not necessarily spending on that immediately, but they did pay for the consultant to get the grant.
So, yes, they are willing to participate to whatever their budget constraints are.
MR. HINES: How is the Airport property zoned presently, do you know, sir?
MR. BICKEL: No, I do not know that.
MR. HINES: Okay. Thank you very much.
MR. BICKEL: But I can find that out and include it in my response.
MR. McNAMARA: Part of that question should be: Has Oldmans adopted a zoning ordinance in conformity with the Airport Safety Zoning Act, which was required to be done by law almost two years ago?
MR. ENGLE: That is on the questionnaire.
MR. BICKEL: I don't know the answer to that.
MR. ENGLE: That should be the last question.
MR. BICKEL: I'm sorry.
MR. ENGLE: It should be the last question.
MR. BICKEL: Oh. These are the Mayor's answers. (referring to questionnaire) Question 22: Has your community adopted the zoning ordinance according to the New Jersey Safety Zoning Act? If not, why not? This is the Mayor's response: "If not presently, it would be part of the master plan update program. That, to me, sounds like they have not done it.
MR. McNAMARA: He sounds like he is not aware of whether he has done it or not. Maybe he just wasn't aware that he had to do it.
MR. BICKEL: That is what it sounds like. He will be now. (laughter)
MR. McNAMARA: Would you be kind enough, Mr. Bickel, to leave that questionnaire with me?
MR. ENGLE: I have a copy of it.
MR. McNAMARA: Is that the original of it?
MR. BICKEL: No, I don't think so. He probably has the original. I have two copies here, so I will give you one.
MR. McNAMARA: I would appreciate having that.
Thank you very much. (after witness gives him copy)
Are there more questions for Mr. Bickel? (no response)
Mr. Bickel, thank you very much for coming today and sharing with us what you have. It has been very helpful to us.
MR. BICKEL: Thank you for the information. I will pass the information on to the Mayor.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Bickel, for your edification, you should contact either Gil Maupin or Emmett O'Hare in the Division of Aeronautics, Department of Transportation, and find out just what programs are available to help your Airport. They have snowplowing, grass mowing, and weed control programs. They have a Runway Improvement Program, tree cutting programs, land acquisition programs, overlays, extensions, ramp areas, and even parking areas for automobiles. They have programs to help in the financing of all of those things -- either the doing or the financing of all of those things.
MR. BICKEL: Okay.
MR. McNAMARA: A typical financing arrangement would be 5 percent from the owner of the airport and/or the municipality, 5 percent from the State, 90 percent from the Federal government.
MR. BICKEL: Okay. Now, was that Emmett O'Hare, like O'Hare Airport?
MR. McNAMARA: Yes.
MR. BICKEL: Okay. And what the other one?
MR. McNAMARA: Maupin.
MR. BICKEL: Okay. Are they at 1035?
MR. McNAMARA: Yes.
MR. BICKEL: Okay.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you very much.
MR. BICKEL: All right. Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: Do we have Peter Rayner, Kristina Hadinger, and Donald Matthews here? (affirmative response from audience) Would you please come forward? You are, respectively, the Township Administrator, the Township attorney, and the Mayor from Montgomery Township?
K R I S T I N A H A D I N G E R, ESQ.: Yes, sir.
M A Y O R D O N A L D W. M A T T H E W S: Yes, sir.
This is the Mayor, this is the Administrator, and that is the attorney.
MS. HADINGER: Good morning.
MR. McNAMARA: Good morning.
MR. HINES: May we have their names?
MR. McNAMARA: Yes. Going across would be, from our left to right, Mr. Peter Rayner, Mayor Donald Matthews, and Ms. Kristina Hadinger. Did I say that correctly?
MS. HADINGER: You did indeed, soft "g." Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you.
Do you have any prepared statements?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes. I have a prepared statement. As a matter of fact, the Township Committee met this morning at 7:00 just so they could confirm this statement. It is not quite as easy in Montgomery Township concerning the Airport as it was for the two people you just had.
MR. McNAMARA: We are aware of that. We have had the owners of Princeton Airport come in. We have reviewed, extensively, the newspaper accounts -- the history of your relationship. I want to tell you, we are very pleased that you are here, because-- I am very, very pleased to hear that you are as concerned as you are about this and had that meeting early this morning. We need to have the input -- your input to see what we can do, or what the Legislature can do to help in situations such as yours. We believe it can be helped, even by having the means of good communication established, which we are coming to believe -- at least I am coming to believe, is at least one of the elements that is missing in situations such as the one we read about with Princeton Airport.
You are fully free to disagree with me, but let me just assure you that we are very pleased that you have taken this so seriously.
Please go ahead.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Okay.
As I said, we had four members of the five this morning at the meeting, and I am sure the fifth one would have agreed. Basically, they read this statement, so everyone agrees to what I am going to read, so you realize you have the community, as far as the Township Committee goes.
One of the things that I wanted to say was that Kris Hadinger, our attorney, has been with us for 13 years, acting as an attorney. Peter Rayner has been with us for 16 years. So they are very, very cognizant of what happened there over the last many, many years. I was Mayor in 1985 and 1986, also in 1993. I have been an elected official for -- going into my 15th year. I have lived in the township for 45 years. I remember the Airport as a grass strip, not much developed.
With that, I will read you my statement.
I am Donald Matthews, Mayor of Montgomery Township. I have been on the Township Committee for 14 years, and involved with matters concerning the Princeton Airport, which is in our township, during those years.
MR. McNAMARA: Mayor, excuse me for just one minute. I just realized that one of our Commissioners has at least a color of a business relationship with Montgomery Township, that being Mr. Philip Engle. He has -- this is for the record -- just recused himself from sitting to hear your testimony or to do any interrogation.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Okay.
MR. McNAMARA: I am also guilty of another oversight.
Do the three of you swear that the testimony you are about to give to this Commission will be true according to the laws of perjury in the State of New Jersey?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, I do.
MS. HADINGER: Yes.
P E T E R R A Y N E R: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: The Princeton Airport was opened sometime around 1917 as a dirt airstrip. Since that time, it has developed improved facilities, including a paved airstrip of 3100 feet, a suitable terminal building, a modern refueling station, and a substantial number of hanger and repair facilities. Through the years, it has remained, as it is today, technically an "uncontrolled" Airport. It has operated for many years on the 3100-foot runway located on 50 acres of land in the southern part of Montgomery Township, at the center of a commercially zoned area along U.S. Route 206.
With the exception of two new residential developments located to the south of the Airport, under the downwind leg of the flight pattern, most of the development surrounding the Airport has been in place for over 30 years. Indeed, to the east is the historic Borough of Rocky Hill and a three-story office complex, directly under the landing glide slope on which 80 percent to 85 percent of landings take place. To the west of the runway are open fields for a distance of approximately one-and-a-half miles, followed by a 30-year-old housing development and more open space. North, along County Route 518, the Georgetown and Franklin Turnpike, is farmland, some homes in excess of 30 years of age, and two relatively new office buildings.
In the late 1980s, the township established an ad hoc committee to examine our zoning in several areas of town, including the Research and Engineering, which we refer to as REO zoning which then surrounds the Airport. We developed an imaginative village concept for that area, while reducing traffic impacts. We took great care to avoid permitting structures within the Air Hazard Zone. While the village concept was permitted in the area, the underlying zoning was, and remains today, REO. The village never developed, and the zoning is again being reviewed.
MR. McNAMARA: REO -- for the record?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Is Research and Engineering.
Though the feeling has not always been unanimous among the people of the township, I think it is safe to say that Montgomery has, and does, regard the Princeton Airport as an asset to the community. We have had our differences. There has been some mutual distrust. The township and the Airport share in the blame for this. Communications were poor and conducted from a distance.
A major concern of the residents of the township is that the character of the Princeton Airport might change. Our residents do not want larger, noisier aircraft. They do not want a significantly larger number of aircraft either. An additional concern is that the Airport be a "good neighbor."
Earlier in my remarks, I described the area surrounding the Airport, particularly noting that nearly all of the existing development has been there for many years. That is significant, in my opinion, because it is from these people, most of whom have been around for a long time, that complaints and concerns originate. Generally speaking, concerns are not coming from new development.
With the Mercer County Airport nearby, it would seem that there is no need for our Airport to make significant changes in the character of its operations. It is our understanding that Mercer County is greatly underused and that it can accommodate the types of aircraft which Montgomery wishes to avoid.
During the last year and one-half, the Airport and the township officials have been engaged in negotiations in an attempt to resolve our shared problems and our differences. The discussions have been notable for their candor and good faith. We are close to reaching agreement which will address issues such as safety, pilot education and discipline, noise mitigation, jet aircraft, helicopter training and flight patterns, physical characteristics of the Airport, and, perhaps most importantly, communications and dispute resolution.
I hope this has been helpful and informative today. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Pricneton Airport and with the aviation industry.
The four of our Township Committee who were there this morning agreed to this statement.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you, sir.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I have copies of this statement, if you would like me to leave them.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you please give one to the Hearing Reporter and give the rest to me, if you don't mind?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Sure.
We would be willing to answer questions.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you very much. (upon receiving copies)
MAYOR MATTHEWS: If you need more, I have some more here.
MR. McNAMARA: Could you -- and I will address this question to anyone who would like to field it -- cover with us-- Have you been in litigation -- involved in litigation with the Princeton Airport?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, but I will let our attorney--
MR. McNAMARA: Would you give us, for the record, just a brief summary of the nature of that litigation and where it stands?
MS. HADINGER: Well, the litigation-- The first piece of litigation, Mr. McNamara, was initiated by Princeton Arrow Corp., the owners of the Princeton Airport, on September 9, 1989. Princeton Arrow Corp. sued Montgomery Township then for having failed to implement the Air Safety Act. It was our understanding, at the time, that the zoning ordinances did not need to be in place until May 15, 1990, yet the Airport sued the township in 1989, claiming that the township had failed to adopt the required ordinances. That was the first piece of litigation.
The second piece of litigation came in May, or I should say shortly after May 1990, when the township did adopt an ordinance as a result of the Air Safety Zoning Act. I stumble a little bit on its name, because it has gone through some--
MR. McNAMARA: It did go through-- It started off--
MS. HADINGER: It used to be the Air Safety and Hazardous Zoning Act, and now it is the Air Safety Act.
MR. McNAMARA: --as the Airport Safety and Hazard Zoning Act, and now it is now called the Airport Safety Act.
MS. HADINGER: That litigation commenced in 1990, and the Airport sued the township for a number of reasons, challenging many aspects of the township's ordinance, ranging from issues such as a prohibition by the township on jet operations -- and there is a history of that -- hot fueling, some traditional land use considerations such as setbacks, coverage issues, and site plan considerations -- requirements for submission of site plans. So there was a whole host of issues in that litigation. Also wrapped up in that litigation was a suit by the owners of a tenant of the Airport, Mid-Jersey Helicopter. The township's ordinance had a prohibition on helicopter training schools.
MR. McNAMARA: Has that litigation been concluded?
MS. HADINGER: Yes and no -- a typical lawyer's answer. It has been totally concluded at the trial level. The litigation is on appeal in the Appellate Division as to the prohibition with respect to helicopters. The trial court-- That suit involved, I must say, by the owners of Mid-Jersey, a number of nonairport-- It involved a number of other issues. The owners of the helicopter training school were suing the town, individual members of the governing body, for personal and punitive damages and alleged civil rights violations. All of that was established and conclusively resolved in favor of the township. All of that is now on appeal by the owners of Mid-Jersey.
MR. McNAMARA: At the trial level, the court determined all issues in favor of the township?
`MS. HADINGER: It is not fair to say "all issues," because there were about 21 motions along the course of the way, Mr. McNamara. There were--
MR. McNAMARA: Were they motions for some rejudgment?
MS. HADINGER: Yes. The net result was that the litigation against the township was dismissed. The upshot of it all was that the litigation against the Township Committee, the township itself, and the individual members of the governing body -- which is the Township Committee -- was dismissed. One of the bases for the court's ruling was some language that remains, as of this day, in DOT's own regulations under the Airport Safety Act concerning schools and flight schools in particular.
We have reviewed Mr. Neurenberg's testimony before you, so I know that was an issue that the Commission considered when Mr. Neurenberg was here before you in November. You expressed some concern about that. So I came prepared with some information on that -- which may be of interest to you or may not be of interest to you -- but what the regulation actually says; also, the Deputy Attorney General's correspondence to the court that was involved in the litigation on that very matter.
MR. McNAMARA: When you say you have the regulation here, if you gave us sort of a capsule version, would that be the regulation that would proscribed hot refueling and the helicopter flight school?
MS. HADINGER: That's the township's ordinance. The township's ordinance did that, yes. What I am speaking of in terms of the regulation is the DOT's regulation that was enacted pursuant to the Airport Safety Act concerning prohibited land uses and other uses, permitted land uses, and the clear zone, the runway subzone -- all of those regulations.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. I would--
MS. HADINGER: Chapter 62.
MR. McNAMARA: I think that would be helpful. But, first of all, I would like to know, with respect to hot refueling, did the court enjoin that at Princeton Airport?
MS. HADINGER: Initially, no. Following enactment by the State, in July 1993, of the new licensing regulations, which are apart and distinct from the Air Safety -- than the zoning regulations, at that point in time, the court said that as a result of that regulation, the July 1993 regulation, the township was preempted from addressing hot fueling. That is something that has obviously taken over by another regulatory agency.
MR. McNAMARA: I see. So the answer to the question is, the court did not enjoin hot fueling, and subsequently determined that the only authority that could address that would be the Department of Transportation.
MS. HADINGER: No, I would not say that it said that the only authority-- What it said was that as a result of the State having now acted in this field, in July 1993 -- not when the township did the ordinance, which was 1989 -- 1990, excuse me, but in 1993, when the State DOT passed the new licensing regulations, it was that Act that preempted.
MR. McNAMARA: That preempted.
MS. HADINGER: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: What about flight schools? Is that similarly disposed of?
MS. HADINGER: It is in the licensing regulations. The language in the Air Safety, the zoning regulations under DOT, Chapter 62, remains intact. It has not been changed. As is the case for many facilities, you have land use issues and then you have licensing issues. A hospital, for example. There may be underlying zoning permitting a hospital, but the licensing of the hospital is regulated by the State. Ths same with schools. The same with alcoholic beverage facilities.
MR. McNAMARA: The short version is, the Airport, if it wants to conduct a flight school, has to get permission from the State to conduct the flight school. And if it wants to do something that the State does not regulate, such as build a building for that flight school, or some other -- or to take some other action that is traditionally regulated by the township, it then has to go to the township for that permission. Correct?
MS. HADINGER: That's true, that's true.
MR. McNAMARA: Is that a correct short version.
MS. HADINGER: I think that is the short version as of the way the regulation stands now.
MR. McNAMARA: That is all I want to know, just where it stands now.
We have been asked by the Legislature to -- among other things -- determine -- investigate the municipal airport relationship -- the airport's relationship with its host municipality. Albeit the history of some of these things is edifying, what I want you to understand right now is just the nature of the problem as it exists. It sounds like that problem has come to a point of accord as between the two parties, and is not a problem any longer.
MS. HADINGER: It certainly has been clarified. And the State must take into account the municipalities' considerations and concerns now in permitting some of those uses, which was also clarified as a result of the 1993 licensing regulations.
MR. McNAMARA: Now, jet aircraft, is that similarly disposed of?
MS. HADINGER: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you know the length of the runway at Princeton Airport?
MS. HADINGER: The runway is 3100 feet.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is still 3100 feet.
MR. McNAMARA: So jet aircraft operations at Princeton Airport are greatly limited by the length of the runway, and even more limited by the temperature -- the summertime temperatures and, I suppose, whatever load they would put on an aircraft. I believe that in 3100 feet there are only two jet aircraft -- two or three jet aircraft, or makes of jet aircraft that could operate at 3100 feet legally.
MS. HADINGER: We are aware of the Cessna Citation and the Check Fighter.
MR. McNAMARA: The Cessna Citation, the Check Fighter, and, I believe, the recent Learjet, the Lear -- was it 335? -- the Lear 35, on a standard day, which would be a day where the temperature would not exceed 70 degrees. I stand corrected by, as Jackie Mason would say, "a really smart man," 59 degrees.
Would you proceed and, if you would, give us -- I do not mean to restrict you too much -- but give us as brief a summary of the regulation, a picture that is reasonable?
MS. HADINGER: Do you mean the State's regulations or the township's regulations?
MR. McNAMARA: I had thought you were going to cover the State's regulations. But it is an open question for you. I would like you to just cover that. What are the regulations that are now affecting the Airport, and your relationship with the Airport?
MS. HADINGER: The State still has in effect the air safety regulations under the Airport Safety Act. One of those regulations prohibits schools. For the record, the regulations is N.J.A.C. 16:62-5.1(a).
MR. McNAMARA: Did you say that "prohibits schools"?
MS. HADINGER: Let me, if I may, read it: "Within the hazard areas delineated by N.J.A.C." etc., "each municipality shall implement ordinances which implement the following standards for land use around airports. Prohibited land uses are specifically prohibited without the written approval of the Commissioner. Prohibited land uses may be allowed by the Commissioner on airport property when they are determined by the Director for air commerce purposes or for the operation of the airport and its vendors directly serving air commerce needs. An example of this" -- and I am quoting directly. This is not my interpretation of it, I am quoting directly -- "an example of this is a flight school."
Indeed, I think the State would agree with that position. One of the deputy attorneys general, in December of 1991, addressed the court on this very issue and said, among other things, "The regulation provides that a flight school is a prohibited land use which may be allowed by the Commissioner."
The other thing, as far as an important, I think, consideration for the Commission to account for is the new airport licensing regulations which, as I said, were enacted in 1993 -- July of 1993. They were enacted after a long public comment period. I think it is safe to say that they were enacted, at least in part, as a result of the concerns that had arisen from the Princeton Airport/Montgomery Township relations and problems and, in many ways, were very responsive to those problems and those issues.
The regulations require airports to, for example, establish general operating rules. I know you are all aware of this generally, but from the standpoint of the communities, these regulations, I think, intended to go a long way toward helping to absolve and resolve some of the issues.
MR. McNAMARA: Please do not assume that we are aware of that. There are some of us who are, but not everyone on this Commission would normally be familiar with these regulations. Please don't make any assumptions about that.
MS. HADINGER: For example, one of the issues that had been a bone of contention between the airport and the residents was the flight pattern. That issue -- the flight pattern -- was not directly involved in the litigation, but it was an issue that was addressed, at least in part, by the licensing regulations. Now when an airport seeks to change the flight pattern, the airport must obtain the consent of the DOT and the FAA, and the DOT, in turn, looks to the community for some input as to whether or not it is a problem.
DOT regulations clearly state that safety is the overriding factor, and that's fine. But at least there is some community input and there is a provision for noise abatement. These are factors and conditions that were not in place when Princeton Airport and Montgomery Township first began to have their difficulties. I think the State's regulations, if they are given a change to be fully implemented, will go a long way in helping to prevent these kinds of issues from happening again, or recurring in other municipalities.
I hope I have been responsive.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there township regulations that you were going to address also?
MS. HADINGER: The township's regulations, I think-- The regulations and issue dealt with, as I said, hot fueling, the jet prohibition, traditional land use considerations, such as floor area ratio, coverage, setbacks, traditional land use issues, how far the driveway can be set back from the property side yard. Those regulations were what were at issue between the township-- We are working closely now to resolve all of this.
MR. McNAMARA: Hot refueling, is that still an open issue?
MS. HADINGER: No, it is not an open issue. I think what you ought to be aware of, though, is that there was a representative of the FAA who actually attended the township's public hearing at the time the ordinance was enacted, who indicated that hot refueling, at that time, was -- although it was permitted in many instances, in other places it wasn't, it was not a fully accepted practive, and there were some entities that just didn't do it and would turn off the engines notwithstanding the additional cost that might result.
So there was someone from the FAA who actually appeared at the Township Committee and spoke to that issue. It was not something that was done in a vacuum.
MR. McNAMARA: We understand that there is a substantial additional cost when you have to shut down one of those turbine engines and start it up again, because they count each cycle on the engine. I guess it is only allowed to have a certain number of cycles.
Does the township or the State regulate the hot refueling issue?
MS. HADINGER: The Department of Community Affairs, under the Fire Prevention Code, did. Those regulations, I believe, have been changed now. But at the time, 1990 again, under the State Fire Prevention Code, it was not permitted.
MR. McNAMARA: Is it now?
MS. HADINGER: I believe, sir, it is. I am not 100 percent sure, but I believe the answer is "Yes."
MR. McNAMARA: What was the town's objection to that, just that it was in violation of State regulation?
MS. HADINGER: Fire prevention issues.
MR. McNAMARA: I see. Okay.
General township fire prevention issues, or fire prevention via the State Code?
MS. HADINGER: Both, I think.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: The town was concerned, the fire company, that they would have a catastrophe. There was also the emotional issue as to what this would bring. In other words, if it was a stopover -- if it was made a regular stopover, we would be getting the type of traffic that we didn't want. That was the feeling of the residents. The fire company had its own problem on how to handle it and what would be required to handle some sort of a fire or explosion. So it was two issues.
MR. McNAMARA: Does Princeton Airport make a substantial economic contribution to Montgomery Township or the area of Princeton Airport?
MR. RAYNER: Just in the property taxes they pay. I should have looked this up before I came, but I think their property taxes are less than $40,000 and probably more than $30,000.
MR. McNAMARA: They make no contribution in excess of something in the nature of $40,000? You do not perceive that the business that is conducted there is making a contribution to the community?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I don't think it is affected at all. I think it is more of a factor for Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, maybe, which feel it that way, but I do not believe that we at the municipal level feel that way.
MR. McNAMARA: Is there any kind of a committee in existence now that provides an open line of communication between the township and Princeton Airport?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: We have no committee, I don't think, at this point. We have these ongoing discussions with the Airport, which is made up of two of our Township Committee people. I guess an attorney, and Peter meets with them, on a regular basis to resolve the issues.
As far as the public is concerned, I am sure they have their own committee. I think that is still in effect.
MR. McNAMARA: The public has a committee?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Does your committee have representatives from the Airport on it?
MR. RAYNER: Let me just explain.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is not really a committee. It is, like, negotiators.
Peter, go ahead.
MR. RAYNER: I think what the Mayor means by--
MR. McNAMARA: Let me explain what I mean, because it may be that in the situation of litigation, this would be inconceivable.
Teterboro Airport is located, I think, in proximity to five different townships. The management of that Airport and the governing bodies of those townships have gotten together and formed a committee to discuss Airport-related matters. The townships perceive the Airport as being an important asset, as well as a factor which might have certain nuisance qualities.
That committee exists to enhance the benefit that can come from the Airport and minimize the detriment that can come from the Airport. I believe it is because of that committee that there are rules, sort of house rules, at Teterboro Airport imposed by management limiting the time of jet operations at nighttime and various other kinds of rules like that.
All of this has been resolved very reasonably and amicably between these entities. That is the kind of a committee I am talking about.
MR. RAYNER: Well, as the Mayor said in his statement, a significant part of the negotiations that are ongoing now is to establish ground rules for a number of things, including communications with the Airport. The agreement, as we have drafted it to this point, includes the establishment of such a committee, which would be a seven-member committee, with each side appointing three members with different backgrounds in both cases, and then, finally, we would jointly select a seventh member who would be someone experienced in dispute resolution and things of that sort.
The charge to the committee would be along the lines that you just discussed that they have at Teterboro: pilot discipline, rules and regulations for operating at the Airport, a mechanism for handling complaints, the hearing of complaints, action taken, and so forth, and so on So it is in the works, what you suggest.
MS. HADINGER: Pilot education as far as flight patterns, noise sensitive areas, and noise abatement procedures.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: But getting back to the various communities, this committee does not include the neighboring towns, does it?
MR. RAYNER: No, no.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Just Princeton.
MR. RAYNER: Just Princeton.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Nor Rocky Hill. That may be something to consider. I have thought along those lines of the two neighboring communities participating in it. That should be taken into consideration. A good point.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have further comments? I would like to ask my fellow Commissioners for any questions they may have, if you are finished. Otherwise, we will be happy to receive more input.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: We are planning a public hearing. Do we have a date set for that?
MR. RAYNER: On April 23, it is our intent to have a public meeting, at which time the Airport and the township will jointly make a presentation to the citizens at large of the provisions of our draft agreement. The township made a commitment some years ago, before we consummated any agreement with the Airport, that the public would be consulted. April 23 is the day. We intend to go there together, make a joint presentation, and answer any questions anyone might have.
MR. McNAMARA: I have two others -- very important: Did you complete our questionnaire and send our questionnaire back?
MR. RAYNER: No, I did not. We will get it to you.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you please deliver that to Mr. Engle, if you would? That is very important for us, because we are going to report the results of that from every airport to the Legislature.
The second question is: What do you believe the Legislature could do for you, recognizing that the Legislature is concerned not to lose any more airports, and concerned to maintain the economic impact that each airport has on its community. We have received substantial testimony to date that the major benefit of the airport bypasses the airport owner and goes into the community. It is almost as though a private citizen is maintaining a road virtually free of charge just to support a gas station or a school or whatever else the businesses are.
Recognizing that this Legislature is concerned not to lose airports, what could the Legislature do to help Montgomery Township in its dealings with Princeton Airport or in its realizing more benefit from Princeton Airport?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, that is a good question. I think a lot of things have been done, based on what Kris has said, to help as far as the town is concerned. That also has probably brought us to the point where we are not trying to solve the problem.
I think probably the most important thing that the State could do, or the FAA could do, would be to recognize that the municipality has to have some sort of control over what is happening there. I think that is what the big problem was prior to this, and I have been at this for a lot of years -- this Airport issue. There is this total feeling by anyone who flies -- and I can understand it -- that, you know, the sky is mine, and once I am up there I am free, and all of those things which have been said. I accept that totally. I am not a pilot myself, but always wanted to be one. I never found the time to do it, but I watched this Airport grow. When I was a kid, all my friends flew out of there when it was a grass strip. I always missed that chance to do it. I still want to do it.
But the point is, I think we have to recognize that the public has a right too. I think that is what has kind of been missed by everyone who owned an airport. They had the same dream to own an airport and do what they pretty much felt they did. I think it was actually condoned by those people in aviation. Nobody wanted to give up any rights. I think it is time that we sit down together and say, "What can we do for everybody?"
I think that is the biggest help you can be. If we can talk -- and sometimes it takes time, and sometimes it takes give and take -- I think we can solve it. I think that is what is happening right now, but look at what we have been through. I mean, our litigation costs are unbelievable.
MR. McNAMARA: What are they? What have they run so far?
MR. RAYNER: Well, litigation in the area of the helicopter school is in excess of $400,000.
MR. McNAMARA: That is just one issue?
MR. RAYNER: One issue.
MS. HADINGER: Well, that was a multiple issue. The suit against the individual members of the governing body and the suit for damages, those kinds of things -- just the flight school.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you, as a matter of magnitude, say that your costs are -- your litigation costs would be in excess of $1 million?
MR. RAYNER: No.
MS. HADINGER: No way.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: No.
MR. RAYNER: It is about, for the helicopter operations, including all of the subissues Ms. Hadinger mentioned, slightly in excess of $400,000. That includes expert testimony and everything else.
MR. McNAMARA: Of course.
MR. RAYNER: For other issues related to the Airport, it is about $100,000.
MR. McNAMARA: So in the nature of a half a million dollars?
MR. RAYNER: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: A very substantial amount.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, it is.
The other thing, too, I wanted to mention is that the town was not against this Airport. When I was there in 1985 when it was for sale, just before the Neurenbergs purchased it, I had pressed for the town to purchase it. We had done a study which, I guess--
MR. RAYNER: We did an ALP with an eye toward purchasing it.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: We were going to move forward with it. Then we were very pleased -- I personally was very pleased -- when the Neurenbergs purchased it, because we didn't really thing we could run an airport efficiently. We would much rather see it in private ownership.
I personally supported the purchase, and I am sure that most people did, because we didn't really want to be in the airport business. We just didn't want to lose it. So the town has not been against the Airport. It has just been the attitude of those involved that the Airport was theirs and they could do what they wanted. I think that is where you could help to take away that feeling, like, the sky and the runway is theirs and nobody else's. That is not true.
MR. RAYNER: I have a few suggestions, but I am not sure they are for the Legislature. They may be more for DOT.
I think, personalities aside -- and there were definitely some personality clashes in our case -- the public -- from what I read in the papers from other towns with airports -- does not have very much understanding of the aviation industry at all. I don't think most people have the slightest idea what a reliever airport is. I think most think a reliever airport is where the big jets come when the skies are too crowded over Newark. Of course, that is not what a reliever airport is.
When it comes time to talk about an ALP or expanding--
MR. McNAMARA: An ALP, for the record, is?
MR. RAYNER: An Airport Layoff Plan. Does everybody know what an ALP is, or-- I'm sorry.
MR. McNAMARA: I don't.
MR. RAYNER: Okay. The Airport Layoff Plan is an acronym for -- or ALP is an acronym basically for the master plan for the development of the airport.
MR. McNAMARA: This is the FAA requirement.
MR. RAYNER: This is what the FAA requires before it funds a purchase or improvements.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: This includes the financial aspects also.
MR. RAYNER: Sure, it includes the financial study, as well as the study of the physical aspects of the development of the airport, and the environmental studies. It is a total study of all airport operations. As a result of that, you have a couple of public hearings and you make a choice of alternatives for the development of the airport. Once that is approved by the FAA, then the 90 percent funding comes down, and you go from there.
As I said earlier, we had one of those done back in 1985 with an eye toward purchasing the Airport before the Neurenbergs came along and bought it.
But to get back to my original point, people do not understand what a reliever airport is and they get very scared or very frightened when they hear talk of an airport becoming a reliever. There seem to be no obvious standards for what a reliever airport, or any other classification of airport, is with respect to the length of the runway, the type of aircraft that can land there, and so forth.
We have spent a great deal of time negotiating and/or discussing what can land on a 3100-foot runway. Sure, the temperature conditions with respect to a load on a jet aircraft can have an effect on that. There are lots of things. Nobody wants jet aircraft at a small-town airport. In the absence of any type of regulation of the type of aircraft that can land at certain types of airfields, naturally you have fear in the hearts of anyone who lives near there. They just don't want these jets coming in there or the bigger and nosier aircraft.
There may be no solution to that other than education. I am not sure that under present Federal regulations you can really discriminate against any particular type of aircraft landing anywhere. But education would certainly go a long way, and I think the State--
MR. McNAMARA: Education of whom?
MR. RAYNER: The public. The State could be a big help here. If the airport owner wants to do something with his airport, he is kind of hanging out there alone in the face of unknowledgeable townspeople, and the State has been so far, frankly, not that helpful to either the airport owners or the people. They could be helpful.
MR. McNAMARA: It is a difficult problem, isn't it, when you want to regulate an airport. The traditional area of regulation, of course, of the municipality is land use -- of course, primarily land use, but there are many other areas. But you do not have, as far as I know-- Do you perceive, or is there any authority for a municipality, given that business buildings and other facilities conform to all your ordinances-- Do you have any authority to regulate how much business a businessman can do? It is obviously his-- It is good for him to do as much as possible, and that is what he wants to do. Do you have any authority to say that he cannot do a certain amount of business?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Kris, you could probably answer this easier than I, but I feel that your zoning ordinances, your laws, the way they are structured, pretty much controls as to what you are going to do with that particular application. If you want to do more than that, you come back and ask for whatever you need, whether it is traffic impact, traffic mediation, or maybe if you want to build more. But the laws do control that to a great extent. You cannot control what is inside those walls, except we do have laws that say now, "If you change the business, we have the right to go in and see what you are doing."
We made those laws in our town because you never know what you are getting into, whether it is something toxic, or whatever. But basically, yes, we do, within reason, control what is happening.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, what I am asking is this: I open a drug store in Montgomery Township. The drug store, when I open it -- perhaps I purchased an existing one -- is doing $500,000 in sales annually. Because of my talents, five years later, it is doing $50 million worth of sales annually, all in the same building, all with the same facilities. Obviously, traffic will have picked up going in and out. But perhaps I am doing a mail order drug business and it hasn't picked up proportionate to the dollar increase, but it may mean that big trucks are coming and going.
You can't really regulate me and bring me back to $500,000.
MS. HADINGER: But you can provide for truck routes. You can provide for limitations on bridges and the size of trucks that can cross the bridges under Title 39, the New Jersey statutes, which regulates motor vehicular -- cars, trucks, those vehicles.
MR. McNAMARA: But that is only as a general law for all businesses, right? You cannot use those laws to target my business--
MS. HADINGER: That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: --and say, "Oh, his trucks all weigh 30,000 pounds, so we'll make our bridges -- limit our bridges to 29,900 and adopt that type of an ordinance specifically to limit the amount of business I can do. Right?
MS. HADINGER: That is correct.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: As long as you were not affecting the public, we probably would encourage you, because that would mean that your taxes would be higher, because commercial taxes are based on the business you do. So you're right.
MR. McNAMARA: I was not really clear what your authorities were, but I suspected that you had that authority. That is preety much, I am sure, what the airport owner would say. Well, no, it wasn't in your case; at least I don't recollect it in your case. But we did have another airport owner who came in and said that the townships' attitude is one of restricting my growth, because I am a businessman and I want to grow. We have, in America, a free economy, and the promise of the free economy is that if we work hard and are talented, we can grow as much as we want. The township is saying, "No, you are supposed to stay in the same business as you were in 1970." All the other businesses in town can grow, but I can't.
He didn't posture an unreasonable concern.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: No, I think we all believe in that. We all want to grow. I guess my position on that would be that we do know what size Airport we have and what type of impact we want to get from that. We certainly do not want to -- and I think we have the right to do that, not to allow Kennedy Airport to locate on the site and take your whole town
Where do we stop? How do we control that type of thing? Are you saying that it shouldn't be controlled at all, that the town--
MR. McNAMARA: No, I am not saying anything.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Oh, okay.
MR. McNAMARA: I am trying, perhaps artlessly, just to ask the question. I want you to give me your thoughts on it.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: If you take this particular Airport, it is 3100 feet of runway, probably they could land and take off a tremendous amount of more planes. I don't know whether they get fees for that or not, but they are limited in their growth by the size of the site and how many planes they can rent space to -- how many rental spaces they have or how much service they have.
Yes, the town-- In this particular case, we lock them into 50 acres. We zoned it that way, but we do that for everything commercial. You cannot get outside of that zone, unless you come in for a variance. So I don't think we would be doing any differently by, say, limiting the size of the Airport in our zoning than we would for any other business. No one can go outside the zone that is yours. The REO zone -- the residential one, the residential two, the commercial, whether it is neighborhood or full commercial. Each person has a limit as to how far he can go. If he didn't have that, there would be no reason for zoning, and the Airport has to fall under that same category.
I don't think we can stop them from landing 10 planes a minute, if they can do it. I mean, the public won't like it, but I don't think we would even try to regulate that. There wouldn't be even a thought of doing that.
So they have the capability. They have their own piece of ground. They can build as many hangers or rental spots as they want within the zoning, just like everybody else. That is the way it works. So I do not understand the argument, because we are not trying to -- we or any other town, I don't think, are trying to put them out of business. Sure, there are residents who would like to see the Airport disappear, but we at the municipal level do not feel that way, I don't think, any one of us at this point. So we are not doing that. The person who said that -- the person who had the argument, I don't think he really expected for the town or the municipality to allow them to expand to any degree they wanted to.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, in that particular case, they had applications, I think, to build hangers that would accommodate certain aircraft that are more modern than the ones that were manufactured prior to 1970, for which they had a number of hangers. I guess over the years aircraft have become wider, longer, and faster and they carry more weight, which means more momentum at touch down, when they land, and meaning that they need a longer area to stop, which means they need longer runways to accommodate the more modern aircraft and they need to have "T" hangers, or other types of hangers that are longer and wider.
The township, of course, had the right to determine whether they could build those hangers, or at least the township took the position that it had the right to determine where they could build those hangers or make those runway improvements.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, the runway improvements, if it was to lengthen them outside the envelope of what the zone is, yes, the town has a right to stop that. If it was within the envelope, obviously they don't. The ame way with the building, the structure. As long as it met the zoning-- Now, if they were changing the zoning just to stop it, yes, I think that is wrong.
MR. McNAMARA: In your case, one thing that I guess is clear, is that the hot refueling-- If you brought a helicopter in and didn't have to shut it down, fuel it, and start it up, in that sequence, the longest duration -- the speed of the shutdown and the startup, a larger number of helicopters could be refueled. I don't know that that is a concern at Princeton Airport -- that it is a revenue concern in terms of selling fuel at Princeton Airport. I didn't hear that when they were here. I heard that primarily it was a concern of cycles on the engine. That is one type of thing that could react on your gross revenues.
MS. HADINGER: But if you had positive noise abatement procedures in place and enforced landing and departure patterns to the best degree possible, you would minimize the adverse impacts even of that additional traffic.
I mean, there are many ways--
MR. McNAMARA: Do you perceive that those things would be simple to put into effect, those kinds of procedures -- noise abatement procedures? As I understand it, essentially an aircraft using a certain traffic pattern, approach and departure procedure, and perhaps a certain power setting--
MR. RAYNER: This is another possible suggestion where maybe legislation could help, now that you bring that up. It is our understanding -- and we were told many, many times -- that there is no control over helicopter flight patterns. There is an established flight pattern for fixed-wing aircraft around an airport, set altitudes, wind and downwind length, and so forth. For helicopters, there isn't a comparable requirement.
We have been told many, many times by people in authority, that they cannot really control where helicopters go, that helicopters are more or less like loose cannons. If there were an ability to set approach and departure patterns for helicopters, it might go a long way toward helping this particular situation. Helicopters are very noisy, as you know, and people are concerned about them. So if they are going to be coming and going with any frequency, it would be nice if they went over areas where there weren't a lot of people.
MR. McNAMARA: I share the concern. I have the AT&T helicopters at 7:30 every morning, one, two, three, go right overhead.
Finally, I would like to just ask you about noise. Do you, in terms of fielding the complaints of the residents in the vicinity of the Airport, find that noise is a more important factor at certain times of the day than at others?
MR. RAYNER: With respect to the helicopters, I think the most frequent complaints, or the most bitter complaints anyway, come during weekend time, when people are home and want to be outside enjoying their backyards. That is when they like the quiet time. Actually, it isn't limited just to helicopters. It is with regard to some of the fixed-wing operations as well. Saturdays and Sundays and before 7:00 in the morning, every day, and after 10:00 at night, every day, too, I would say.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Getting back somewhat to what control can do, since we have been negotiating -- talking to the Airport -- many things have changed. Flight patterns have been more or less established for helicopters, as far as the training helicopters there. The flight pattern was changed -- the takeoff pattern -- to straight out, or to the 10 degree, I mean.
There has been more instruction to the pilots so that they are not making that turn right over the residents' houses, which they were doing. Our complaints were-- I mean, I was just loaded. There were stacks of them. We would get 10 a day sometimes. Now, I may get one a week, if I get that.
MR. McNAMARA: Just because of those changes to the pattern?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Just paying attention to what you are doing and setting up a--
MR. McNAMARA: And trying to be a good neighbor.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That's it.
MS. HADINGER: That's it.
MR. RAYNER: Prior helicopter -- without getting into too much detail, because we are still in litigation with them-- But the prior owner of the helicopter school was rather inflexible, I think it is safe to say. The new owner of the helicopter school has been very sensitive to the community, such that he does most of his hovering operations right on the property and he limits, as much as he can, the pattern flying, which is a part of his curriculum. He has to do pattern flying, but he keeps it to a minimum and he takes great care, as much great care as he can, to avoid the congested areas. Our complaints have fallen off to next to nothing.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It wasn't just the helicopters, it was the fixed wing also.
MR. McNAMARA: Now, with respect to jet aircraft noise, I presume -- correct me if I am wrong -- that if a jet were to make no more noise than a conventional aircraft, that there would be no objection to the jet.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: You can jump in here anytime you want, but I am not sure if that is true. I think there is a perceived concern of the residents that -- whether it is noise or not -- if jets are allowed on a regular basis, or actually based there, that would just mean that there would be more and more coming all the time. There is a big fear of jets, a big fear of what is going to happen in the future -- whether they will be able to get larger and land on a smaller piece.
So I am not sure that the residents, per se, are ever going to accept jets easily.
MR. McNAMARA: This is something that I would like you to address as at great a length as you would like to, because it is something -- it is a mystery and we are trying to get some grasp of it.
The jets, originally, were very noisy. We all remember the days when the fighter jets would go out and you could hear them a mile away. The jets today have changed the engines they are using. They are bypassing the turbojets, which were extremely noisy, and now they have engines that bypass an enormous quantity of air. Sometimes 75 percent of the air going through the engine bypasses the jet mechanism. They do that, primarily, because the more air they can bypsss, the more fuel they save. They have strong economic incentives to have a high bypass ratio, as it is referred to.
The by-product of that is that the more air that can be bypassed, the less noisy are the jet engines. Of the jet engines today, there are many operating that make less noise. An aircraft actually makes less noise, as measured in decibels, than conventional aircraft. Certainly, then, one of the World War II antique fighter aircraft, using the old rating linchings, wouldn't even be comparable. If the two took off together, you would never hear the jet.
Speak to that, if you would, because that, I think, sort of falls into the bailiwick of what you were mentioning on education.
MR. RAYNER: Education, because a jet is a jet is a jet. That is the way I think it is seen by the public. Everything you just said I think is true. But not all jets are new. Not all jets have these improved engines, and some of them still make noise. Plus, if you allow jets into the Airport, you are going to have bigger ones and bigger ones. According to public perception, of course, you are going to have bigger ones and bigger ones.
MR. McNAMARA: You know that is not correct, right? I mean--
MR. RAYNER: I agree with what you said, if that is your question.
MR. McNAMARA: I agree with everything you said with respect to education. That is part of this problem. We know that a runway is like a roadbed or a bridge. It can accommodate a certain amount of weight. Beyond that, a vehicle cannot use it.
MR. RAYNER: Runway construction--
MR. McNAMARA: If you have a jet that would land at Princeton Airport now, and that jet meant that more jets would come in the future -- recognizing that not all jets are quiet jets, that there are regulations that mandate the noisy jets to become quiet jets, and going forward from this point, it can be presumed that the greatest number of jets are going to be Stage III, or quieter jets. So any increase in jet population would tend to have an increased percentage of the quieter jets.
The jets could never become -- go from the Citation, for instance, the Citation jet to the Lear 35. You mentioned a Hungarian--
MR. RAYNER: A Hungarian fighter.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That was not a good move. We had the Hungarian fighter there for awhile. That did not help the jet situation at all.
MR. McNAMARA: Whatever that was. You have those three. I know the weight of two of them. I know that just because they are using the runway at Princeton Airport, that does not pose any threat at all that a 737 or a 747 would come into Princeton Airport. If a 747 were going out of Princeton Airport with the same kind of noise that it makes going out of Newark Airport, I could see that the residents would be terrified at the prospect. But that is an education matter, isn't it, because that could never happen?
We had a fellow testifying from Solberg who said -- and he is an aeronautical engineer, as well as an airline pilot of many years -- if we ever put that airplane down on our runway, it would sink up to its knees on a dry day. So the threat of maybe more jet aircraft is not unrealistic in this world today, because it is going to be where it is going to go. But a large, very noisy transport aircraft, that is unrealistic. That is a concern that is unrealistic, yet it is a real fear.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That's right. It is a real fear.
We have a couple of pushers. They have been the biggest problem of the Airport. We have a couple of those pusher engines. They make more noise than any jet you could ever hear.
MS. HADINGER: Skymasters.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, they are unbelievable. I can hear them take off, and I live five miles from the Airport. I hear them take off every time they take off.
So, yes, people would like to see those go, but they don't make anywhere near the noise that a jet would make upon taking off. We had a lot of jets in there. I never heard a jet, but I hear that Skymaster.
MR. RAYNER: There are a lot of jets in and out of there, but nobody knows about them.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I'm sure.
MR. McNAMARA: We have reason to believe that as we go forward not only are there going to be more quiet jets, but the jets are going to be quieter than they are now. In fact, it is coming to a point where noise won't even be a factor. That is in the future.
I have taken personally too much of your time, but this is a very important matter. I now want to open this up to the rest of my Commissioners.
Bob, do you have any questions?
MR. YUDIN: Yes.
Thank you for coming. It seems to me that I am getting a conflicting thought, or signal from you. In your opening statement, Mayor, you said you do not want more aircraft at the Airport. I wrote that down. Do I have that accurately? MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is not in the statement.
MR. YUDIN: You do not want more aircraft at the Airport. If it is not in your statement, did you indicate that, because I wrote that down?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: You're saying that I said--
MR. YUDIN: I thought I heard you say that you don't want any more aircraft -- an increase in the number of aircraft at the Airport.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: No. If I said that, I don't know in what context I said it.
MR. YUDIN: That would be--
MAYOR MATTHEWS: The residents. I was talking about the residents. They do not want to see a significantly larger number of aircraft.
MR. YUDIN: Okay, you were referring to the residents, that they do not want--
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes. You have to read the whole paragraph. Do you have it in front of you? "A major concern of the residents of the township" -- I am talking about the residents now -- "is that the character of the Princeton Airport might change. Our residents do not want larger, noisier aircraft. They do not want a significantly larger number of aircraft either."
MR. YUDIN: Okay. Is that the feeling of the governing body, that you do not want a significantly larger number?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, the governing body would certainly want to recognize the concerns of the residents. I mean, that is what we do. We are elected by those people. We have to take that into consideration. I certainly wouldn't feel like I was representing-- I didn't have right to accept their vote, if I do not take their position. Now, there is--
What I also said in here is that most of the concerns are from the people in the exact vicinity of the Airport. We, as elected officials, recognize that that is a small segment -- basically a small segment of our town, maybe 10 percent. We get an awful lot of comments from residents who live away from the Airport who say, "Why do you bother with the Airport? Why are we spending this money on litigation?"
We balance that. That is what we do. That is what legislators do. We balance this group that is taking the full impact against the people over here who are taking a lot less impact and who do not understand why we are spending money to support the smaller group.
MR. YUDIN: In your further testimony when you were answering questions from the Chair, you indicated that within the permitted use, between the area that you permit the Airport to operate in, that just so long as they fulfill all the zoning requirements, it is okay to build additional hangers, it is okay to do these things.
Now, the Chairman gave the example of the pharmacy. I think that was a very good example. It would seem -- I got the impression that maybe you agreed on it, but I would like to hear more about this -- that the owner of the Airport could bring in additional numbers of aircraft, which would be increasing his business, just so long as he was doing it within the context of not having to expand the area of the Airport. I want to make sure that I understand that that is your position. Or, if it is not, I would like to hear you say that that is not your position, that he can't bring in more aircraft and expand his operation within the context of the zoning that you created for him.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I have no right to do that, just like I have no right with any other business. They have to meet the zoning, and that's it. I am not going to-- If you are trying to say that I am advocating it goes to the maximum, no, he would like him to stay where he is. It would be better for everybody if another plane never came in, more than what he is doing on a weekly basis. That is unrealistic, and following the Commissioner's statement, we recognize that. That is why we made zoning. That was my position.
He has the right to go as far as he is allowed under the zoning.
MR. YUDIN: Okay.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I am not going to-- I may not be happy with that, but that is his right.
MR. YUDIN: The next question, of course, is: Can that position be sold to your residents? I imagine this April 23 hearing, or meeting, you are going to have will really be very important.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I would suggest that someone from your Commission should be there.
MR. YUDIN: First, I am delighted to see that the two of you -- the Airport and the Township Council -- are sitting down and trying to come up with common ground. I think that is very commendable. I would hope that at the April 23 meeting-- I am not referring to you and your township, but we have heard some horror stories about town meetings where some of the owners of the airports were just not able to express their viewpoints. I hope that when you have this meeting it will be done -- and I am sure you will want it done -- in a calm manner. I hope the residents will act in a calm manner, that all opinions will be heard, and you will try to work this out. I think that meeting is very important. It will determine the tenor of the feelings between the Airport owner and the township in the future.
You said something else that very much surprised me, because we are hearing information here that is really totally contrary. I am not referring just to Princeton, I am talking about generally. We asked you what you felt the economic benefit of the Airport was to Montgomery Township. You indicated that no economic benefit, other than tax collection, but there might be some economic benefit for Princeton.
You don't feel that there are residents of Montgomery Township who work at the Airport> There are no restaurants or services in Montgomery Township that people coming into the Airport would patronize, like, maybe, going to dinner or getting a tire changed or getting gas? You don't feel there is any economic benefit to your township from this Airport?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: There are probably many of those things that you just said. The question, I thought, was whether we, the Township Committee, the governing body, felt so. I don't think that is in our equation. In other words, many towns -- you heard one, the man who was here before us -- are looking for it, because they are putting it into their equation. We do not put that into our equation as being an important factor.
The Princeton public has been out many times, and they support the Airport. They feel like it is. Some of our businesses might feel that it is. It is not something that we discussed at the governing body level in the 14 years that I have been serving.
MR. YUDIN: Do you think that would be something worth looking into, so that when you have to confront or educate your citizenry you can point out certain economic benefits that accrue to the township? Maybe there are some businesses that are able to stay in town and pay real estate taxes because they are able to reap some economic benefit from people who either work at the Airport or come to the Airport. For instance, maybe people going to Princeton are coming into that Airport. We have documentation that more than half of the flights from general airports in the State of New Jersey are within airports from the State of New Jersey. So isn't it possible that people are coming into your Airport to travel to, say, business in Princeton, but in doing that, they might stop at a facility in Montgomery Township, and a business in your township might benefit? Shouldn't that be in the equation?
MR. RAYNER: That's a fair question, but I think the Mayor's answer is probably pretty accurate. The operation isn't that large in terms of number of employees, and things of that sort that I think you would find it has a really significant economic impact in terms of the business it brings to the town or the people it employs. Businessmen who are flying in and out of there, of course, tend to go right to where they are having their meetings, or what have you. Some of them probably stop -- we have a number of restaurants in town -- depending on what their destination is, whether it be Princeton to the south, Hillsborough to the north, Franklin to the east. Sure, they are probably use some services somewhere.
It is a fair question, but I don't think we regard it as significant in that way. Maybe we should look into it more.
MR. YUDIN: Maybe I can help, I don't know. Do we know if the testimony we heard yesterday, that the data that they looked at -- the 36 airports that they looked at -- plus the 12 secondary airports-- Is Princeton one of those airports?
MR. McNAMARA: I will tell you in just one minute, if you will bear with me.
MR. YUDIN: We might have the data. We might have received it yesterday.
MR. RAYNER: If you have something that would be helpful, we will be glad to have you share it with us.
MR. McNAMARA: We are kind of giving you the sneak preview. What I have in front of me is a copy of a document that is marked, in big letters, "DRAFT," but under intense examination yesterday, I think we found that the numbers in this study will not change. Perhaps the format of the presentation will change, the pictures and the diagrams in the study. This study was commissioned by the Department of Transportation. They entered a contract for $500,000 with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Authority, which subcontracted this study to an engineering firm in Cincinnati known as the Airport Technology and Planning Group, Inc., whose business it is to do these kinds of studies.
If I am reading the report correctly, the study did individual studies of 36 selected airports in the State of New Jersey. It was not the purpose of this study to determine the overall impact of aviation upon the State's economy, but rather the specific impact of aviation -- general aviation -- as opposed to scheduled airline traffic, or commuter traffic, upon the specific locale of an airport.
Now, at Princeton Airport, if I am reading this correctly, in terms of employment by the tenants of the Airport -- and that word is a word that would include the owner of the Airport and other tenants -- there were--
Phil Engle, have you read this study? I am going to ask Mr. Engle to come up and serve as special counsel to the Chairman.
Is this the number of employees?
MR. ENGLE: That is just secondary fallout.
MR. McNAMARA: Where it says "employment, airport tenants, 46.5.
MR. ENGLE: Correct, 46.5.
MR. McNAMARA: What?
MR. ENGLE: The 0.5 being a part-timer equaling half of a full-timer.
MR. McNAMARA: So that is a person?
MR. ENGLE: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: A man.
MR. ENGLE: A man.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. So the direct employment would be 46.5, the secondary is 45.6, and the total would be 92.1. That is for Airport tenants, people who are physically located on the Airport.
What does this mean, general?
MR. ENGLE: General aviation visitors. As I understand it, those are the people directly affected by general aviation visitors to the area.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. So other businesses -- this would be off-Airport businesses -- would have a total of 79.8 employees. The total of the two groups would be 171.9. Roughly 172 employees have their jobs as a result of the existence of Princeton Airport.
That translates into a payroll in that area -- just a payroll -- of $3,611,300. The economic impact of the Airport, which would include, I suppose, some factor for the payroll, some factor for dollars spent by visitors, and some multiplying factor which we were told yesterday by this firm was the most reliable factor, which was their way of telling us that it is one of the lower factors-- I guess they have 102 different multipliers and they apply them in different circumstances, depending on the location of the airport, the type of business it does, the type of businesses around it, and so on.
But the total economic impact of Princeton Airport would be $8,650,000 in the Princeton/Montgomery Township area.
I think what we want to do is give you a copy of this report. I don't think we can do that right away, but as I understand it-- What are we, a week, or a month--
MR. ENGLE: May 2 is going to be the great unveiling. Don't worry about it.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. I would say on or before May 2.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: So it won't be before our public hearing. We won't be able to get it before the public hearing.
MR. McNAMARA: What's that?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It won't be available for April 23 then.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, I think, given that you have a public hearing coming up, so long as you would recognize what I have said and repeat that, that it is in draft form, the numbers will not change, I don't think there would be anything wrong with your having a copy of that part of this report that pertains to your Airport. There are only three pages.
MR. RAYNER: Could we have, in addition to the figures that apply to Princeton Airport-- There must be some descriptive information as to how these figures were gathered and derived.
MR. McNAMARA: I hope there is. As I said, I received this report yesterday. All the Commissioners have not yet received the report.
Do you know if there is a description of the methodology in the front of the report? MR. ENGLE: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. Mr. Engle, do you have a copy of this report?
MR. ENGLE: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: I would like to ask Mr. Engle, who has been handling our relationships with the townships, to undertake to give you a copy of the relevant section -- well, the sections of this report that are relevant to Princeton Airport and relevant to the methodology used to develop these numbers. I would also like you to have a copy of the cover page, or whatever page would have the data about who did this study, so that you can contact them if you so desire, to get a further understanding of how these numbers were developed.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Good, very good. Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: That sort of lays the foundation. I don't know if at the municipal level they have a concern about getting jobs. I know it is a statewide concern, but--
MR. YUDIN: Well, the point I was trying to make is, I think Montgomery Township underestimates the economic impact, tha positive impact, that this Airport has on their economy. I think it is something that should be taken into account and brought to the attention of your population, because when they realize that this is a benefit that nobody really put any numbers to, or even talked about, it might help to alleviate the adversarial relationship that now exists between the Airport and the municipality. That was why I tried to bring this up, because this is very substantial empirical data that I think you should bring to the attention of your population on the 23rd.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: If the figures are correct, you are certainly correct. We underestimated the economic value.
MR. YUDIN: Well, we have been assured by the consultants that they are correct, and that they will stand up to any test by any expert. They also assured us that the multiplying factors they used were the most conservative they could come up with and that, in fact, the impacts are probably greater than the figures they are coming forth with.
I would like to go into just another area, and that is on jets. You are probably not aware that Teterboro Airport has a monitoring system in effect. They measure the decibel levels of the jets. There is a procedure in effect that if certain operators go above that decibel level, there are one, two, or three warnings -- I am not quite sure -- that operator is then forbidden to operate that aircraft out of that Airport.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: What Airport was that?
MS. HADINGER: Teterboro.
MR. YUDIN: Teterboro. At some point, you might want to talk to our expert on Teterboro Airport here privately about that, because perhaps that can be worked out with the operator of Princeton, so you can be assured that you won't have noise problems relative to jets. Jets are the future. It is here now. The perception that your population has that they are more dangerous is not accurate. Hopefully, that will be able to be resolved with education.
I personally think it would be very difficult for a municipality to forbid a jet from coming into an airport just so long as that aircraft can do it in a safe way and can honor all regulations by the FAA. Our Chairman has shown you quite eloquently that you don't have to concern yourselves about larger jets coming in. Perhaps you could work out an arrangement with the operator of the Airport that only certain types would be allowed in, so that your fears relative to noise, and your fears relative to weight would not hold up. Maybe that is something, since there seems to be a thawing between the Airport and the township, that maybe you could work that out and start being able to allow him to receive certain jet aircraft. Perhaps you could even do it over an experimental phase timewise, 90 days or whatever, so that your residents can see that there is nothing to be afraid of, that certain fears are unfounded.
MS. HADINGER: Mr. Yudin, the representatives of the Airport have repeatedly told the township that the FAA would never permit such an arrangement. We, I think--
MR. YUDIN: They have said that?
MS. HADINGER: We have been repeatedly told that by the representatives of the Airport and, to some extent, the DOT, that we cannot discriminate against the types of aircraft that land at -- that depart from Princeton Airport. That is part of the problem.
For the record, the township did have an agreement with the then owners of Princeton Airport going back to 1964. Now, I think we all grant you that jet technology has changed, but the language about no jets is 30-odd years old. In 1964, the then owners of Princeton Airport came to the township and said, "Please, please, please, we would like to expand the Airport. We want to make some improvements, and there won't be any jet traffic." That was written into the approvals. There was a variance granted which permitted the Airport to deviate from the then zoning regulations. A variance was granted. The Airport itself consented, no jets. That has been the history of Princeton Airport in Montgomery Township.
As I said, granted the technology has changed. We do not take any issue with that, but that is the backdrop. For years and years and years the facility -- the notices to airmen, the published notices to airmen, said, with respect to Princeton Airport: "Jet traffic prohibited. That changed in 1987, when the new owners of the Airport came in.
It is water over the bridge. It is really not necessary to talk about it now, but there is a long history as far as jets are concerned, and I just think the Commission should be sensitive to that. It is a question of education, new technologies, and how things have changed over the years.
MR. YUDIN: So jets are operating out of the Airport then?
MS. HADINGER: Yes.
MR. YUDIN: And this restriction was not on the deed?
MS. HADINGER: The restriction was in the variance. It was in the variance.
MR. YUDIN: It is just in the variance.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Just for your information, that was Christi Todd Whitman's brother who made that deal with the town in 1964, I believe.
MR. McNAMARA: Who was that?
MR. RAYNER: Danny Todd.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: The Governor's brother.
MR. McNAMARA: He is a good friend of mine.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That was just for general information.
The other thing is, this may be something that maybe could be considered down the line. Right now, the Airport and the town have come to some sort of an agreement.
MR. YUDIN: Well, I congratulate you on the fact that you are coming to an agreement.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: If the public accepts it, if everybody accepts it-- You know, we want to put this thing to bed.
But I hear what you're saying on that issue. I don't think it is going to be a problem right now as far as the Airport is concerned.
MR. YUDIN: All right. Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: Pete?
MR. HINES: A couple of real quickies here. I don't want to belabor the issue, but the Airport was established in 1917, according to your testimony, Mayor.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Or thereabouts.
MR. HINES: It became a hard surface runway about 1965. Since that time and prior to that time, I think we have all seen a great deal of development along 206, particularly north of the Airport, across from the Airport and along 518.
Is it fair to assume that many of these corporate developments, particularly the corporate developments now, not the residential developments, occurred there because of the availability of air transportation services? Would you accept that as a statement?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I can't pinpoint any particular thing in my years. I have been there for 45 years. I know the developers, the ones who put them in place. I have never heard anyone say, "Well, we are going to do this because of the Airport." Maybe somebody else has, but I haven't.
MR. HINES: I think what I am getting at is, I believe that some of those commercial developments could very well have come there, not because of the Airport, but it was one of the factors that encouraged them to build there.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: We just finalized a deal with Bloomberg (phonetic spelling), you know, the financial people, and approval. One of the deals was that they would like to have access to the Airport for one helicopter pad. That has been the only request. When we said, well, we didns't think it was a good idea, they backed right off immediately. They didn't even press the point. They could land there anyway, but--
MR. HINES: I have to agree with Mr. Yudin. Your failure to include the ancillary benefits -- the economic benefits of the Airport there, is really not serving the general population, in my opinion.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, your point is well taken. These numbers have never been presented, nor have they even been considered. And of course, the present owners have done so much to expand it. I mean, the former owner was a good friend of mine. It was going downhill, and of course, he is connected with Teterboro. That is where he is now. As I said, we were going to buy the place. At that time, we were looking at numbers, and it didn't look as if it would really pay for the town to own an airport.
But never have we done this. What we will do, too, is, we have an economist, not on staff, but readily available. I would like to have him take a look at these, too. If it is true, it is a good point, and I would like to verify them as much as possible before the 23rd. I think we can do that.
MR. HINES: As you recall, Mayor, there was also another airport right across the road from Princeton Airport, a private airport.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Which one?
MR. HINES: Was it Dick Young, Hercules Powder.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, the strip, you mean.
MR. HINES: A little strip, a private strip.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, okay.
MR. HINES: Well, I shouldn't call it private.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, that's true. That's right, he had it right there, right in Rocky Hill.
MR. HINES: I flew there in 1960 when it was a grass strip.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That was in Rocky Hill. We get a lot of complaints. Rocky Hill is on our hot line, too. We have a complaint hot line. Half of our calls do come from Rocky Hill.
MR. McNAMARA: Pete, is this by way of saying, "I see your 45 years and raise you"? (laughter)
MR. HINES: Not quite. I've got 35 of them.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I forgot all about that.
MR. RAYNER: Didn't we have some Ronson aircraft flying out of Princeton at one time?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That's right.
MR. HINES: Quite a bit. Yes, quite a few. We used to use it. Kepner-Crego (phonetic spelling) used the airport quite a bit, and many other small companies.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I flew the maiden flight on two distinct commercial enterprises that tried there, but didn't make it.
MR. HINES: I was also involved in setting up the commuter airline there at Princeton Airport in 1965, which I don't think made two many people happy. It made a lot of people happy, but I am not too sure about the residents.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: One came back in, I think, 1986.
MR. HINES: And tried it again.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It didn't work.
MR. HINES: I have one last question here: Would you agree that possibly local government, when they have an airport in its early stages and before the general area is heavily impacted by the residents and what have you-- Wouldn't it be incumbent, so to speak, on the local governing body to try to protect the airport from this type of residential -- particularly the residential type growth adjoining airport property?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: You're right. We had the zoning changed. We were completely zoned for R&D completely surrounding the Airport. What happened was, the town took the position that we did not want the mess of improvements to 206 and I-95. We did not want the impact of traffic. What that meant was that we had to take a look at our zoning, because if we were not going to support the major highways, that meant we had to reduce the amount of traffic.
You know, we have been accused that we changed the zoning basically to stop the Airport, and that is not true. That area where the R&D was located, which is now residential, had a tremendous impact on the highway, and our numbers showed that it couldn't work. So we had to do something based on our philosophy that we didn't want a major highway. It had nothing to do with the Airport. We changed our zoning to residential. To the north and the east, it is still commercial, or REO. I think to the west it will probably stay as it has always been. We have not changed the zoning there.
It was just that one side, if you are referring to that. The reason was traffic. It had nothing to do with the Airport.
MS. HADINGER: Mr. Hines, with respect to that, the southern part where there was a rezoning and there are new residences, that has not been the area from which the township has received noise complaints. Part of that, I think, is, in large part, due to the fact that when those people were buying their homes, the township, through the planning board process and in conjunction with the DOT, made sure that there were big, bold notices about the Airport, the presence of the Airport, saying that airports do make noise. The residents bought there knowing that, even with the big, bold-face type. That has not been the source of the complaints. Those notices-- We set it up so that those notices will carry through the chain of title, so that anybody buying in that area will be aware.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is actually on the title.
MR. HINES: One final comment: There was a riding academy at the end of one runway. I don't know if they are still there or not.
MS. HADINGER: It is.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is still there.
MR. HINES: Still there. I was afraid of the airplanes scaring the people off the horses, or whatever.
There was also a chicken farmer there who loved the airplanes, because the chickens laid more eggs than they did before.
MR. YUDIN: Jack, could we just follow up on this one area, because, as you know, there is a statute that requires notification. The real estate agent is supposed to notify. This is one of the things we are looking at.
MS. HADINGER: I am proud to say that we predated that statute.
MR. YUDIN: Tell us, in more detail, exactly what you do in the notification process.
MS. HADINGER: Well, the statute you are speaking of, Mr. Yudin, is only with respect to areas that are in the Air Safety envelope, the runway subzone and that--
MR. YUDIN: Do you feel that should be expanded, the area of notification?
MS. HADINGER: That is what the State statute covers. Through the planning board process, there were two particular developments. In sum, these developments will total about 300 to 320 homes altogether. Through the planning board process, we required notices in the contracts of sale. We required notices in the master deed restrictions which go with the chain of title. I don't believe that all of these homes are-- Well, they're not. It is not that I don't believe, these homes are not located within the Air Safety Zone. These are to the south of it.
MR. YUDIN: Okay. So you are notifying people even though they are not within the zone, and your testimony is that this has precluded any appreciable complaints from these residents.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is very easy for me, as Mayor, to say, "Hey, wait a minute. You know what you bought," because that was the argument, "Well, we didn't expect this to--"
Of course, I think the notice says that you can expect that there will be normal expansion. You know, you have to do the whole package, because people call up-- I had an actual person call and tell me that he didn't realize there was an Airport there. He bought right at the end of the runway.
We knew that was happening. It is very hard for an elected official to, first of all, swallow that, but then, secondly, they are still persons who are residents of the town. So by doing this, we have then taken, from my point, and anyone who comes after me-- They can easily say, "Hey, wait a minute. You know what you bought, because it is in your deed." If you are not reading your deed, you are in real trouble, or your attorney is.
So it is a good law for us. It's working. We have also expanded that into other areas, notification for anything. If there is a dump site in the town, they have to be notified, all of those adverse things, the Airport just being one of them.
MS. HADINGER: The State, in fact, aside from this particular State statute which deals with notices and the hazard area, last year, enacted a site disclosure statute which requires developers of new properties to file with the clerk information concerning the things that Mayor Matthews mentioned -- landfills, airports, utility lines, things like that.
There are several layers of notification and information that can be made to prospective purchasers of property now. Requirements are imposed on developers and, as far as the State Site Disclosure Act, the municipal clerk.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It's a good point. If you took that Air Traffic -- what do you call it?
MR. RAYNER: Air Hazard Zone.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: --the Air Hazard Zone and put an overlay over that, a circle, or however you want to do it, and made that a notification zone, that might be a good thing, too.
MR. YUDIN: As a point of information, the Airport started in 1917, or thereabout, so I think it is safe to assume that most of the people now -- and I am not talking about the new areas, but the old areas -- if not all of them, came after the Airport-- The Airport preceded them.
When you get complaints from them, how do you handle them?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, the argument is a pretty good one, in the sense that when they bought it, it was a small Airport. The developments we are talking about, the ones that we really listen to, are the ones who have been there for about 30 years. When they bought, it was about the time that the Governor's brother was buying the Airport, almost the exact same time -- 1962, 1963, I think that was built. That was a very small Airport with just a few Piper Cubs going out of it. There was very limited use of the Airport. So they built under that assumption.
Their arguments are that they did not expect it to expand to where it is. Then, of course, the takeoff pattern was changed so that they got more impact, and they had more of an argument. In other words, when they went to the straight out, these people really took a beating. They really took a beating. So until we got the takeoff pattern changed, they had a legitimate argument. They did not buy expecting a La Guardia, or whatever, pick out another airport.
But the new people have no argument. They knew what they were buying into and they know it is going to expand. It is going to get bigger.
MS. HADINGER: The older residents also--
MAYOR MATTHEWS: It is easy to answer, but for the new people-- It is very hard to answer those people.
MS. HADINGER: --have an argument, or a valid concern when the established flight pattern is not adhered to by the pilots. When the flight pattern is adhered to and the pilots stay within the established pattern, you would be surprised at the decrease -- the corresponding decrease in the number of complaints.
MR. YUDIN: I certainly would not argue with "it's a valid concern" if a pilot is not sticking to an established flight pattern. I certainly would not argue with you there, but I would question whether it is valid to say, "Well, the Airport, when I bought my property, was a small Airport, and it has now expanded and that's unfair," because rationally speaking, if something is small, when you are going to buy near it, you have to say to yourself, "Is that going to expand?" I would think, rationally, you are going to say, "Yes," at some point, "it might expand."
I know when I first came into the municipality I live in, which is Wyckoff, I bought next to a farm. My wife and I looked at each other and said, "Sometime down the road, that farm is going to be sold to developers." Two years ago, it was, and it is not a farm anymore, and I don't live there anymore.
MR. RAYNER: Well, you may be correct, but it is perceptions that count, and that is what we do.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Well, it was a grassy strip when they bought it. There is no question that it was still grass. When that development went in-- It is taking the most impact. It was a grass strip with a few Piper Cubs.
MR. McNAMARA: But that overlay, the hard surface runway, that was put in in the 1950s.
MR. HINES: In 1965.
MR. McNAMARA: Was it 1965? I know when Danny was operating that, he operated a Piper Aztec out of there, which was a two-engine airplane.
Actually, though, the real complaints did not begin until the present owners came in 1987. Is that correct?
MR. RAYNER: That is when they really took off, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Prior to that, wasn't there a Princeton Airways that operated out of there?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Jack, do you have any questions?
MR. ELLIOTT: No, thank you.
MR. HINES: Jack, I would like to bring you up-to-date. Back then, in 1965, we not only had twin engine aircraft, but there were Beech 18s going out of there, the whole nine yards. Although there were some complaints, it really did not reach the level that currently has been reached in recent years.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I can follow up on that, and I think Pete touched on it. One of the big problems was control of the pilot. Pilots were flying wherever they wanted to, at any time they wanted to, in any direction they wanted to. They were not following procedure and, of course, all of a sudden the people woke up and realized that they had a major Airport over their heads.
We can control that and, of course, it is proving it right now. We have no complaints, basically. It is just a matter of control.
MR. McNAMARA: Did you find that your complaints, when you said that you had 10 a day-- Over the course of a month, you had a high number of recurring complaints from the same person -- or, the same residents.
MS. HADINGER: Same area.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Same area. The same residents called. There is no question about it.
MS. HADINGER: There was one resident-- With respect to the helicopters -- I'm sorry -- there were some residents in an area from which the town had never received any complaints whatsoever. I recall vividly the testimony of the gentleman who lives very, very close to the Airport, who said, "I have been a neighbor of the Airport for many, many years. I have no problem with the Airport. I have never had a problem with it. I have always been its supporter. But the helicopter operation, that is, the flight school, has very greatly changed the character of the Airport and the noise, and has impacted the quality of our lives." That operation was started in the very late 1980s.
So that was a resident who had historically been a supporter of the Airport, had never uttered a peep in the way of a complaint, but who came out to the public hearing and spoke about the helicopter flight school and its impact.
MR. McNAMARA: Have you ever considered lengthening the runway for the purpose of noise abatement?
MR. RAYNER: For the purpose of noise abatement? No.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you follow the question?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: To take it past them?
MR. McNAMARA: Yes. The aircraft noise that is complained about is the noise after the aircraft leaves the ground and goes up to a certain altitude. Then, after that, it is pretty much not a factor anymore.
Of course, where the aircraft is in that transition zone, it ends where it starts its takeoff from. If you can move that takeoff run further away from the sensitive area -- the start of that takeoff further away from the sensitive area and get the aircraft higher by the time it comes to that area, you are abating the noise in the area.
MR. RAYNER: Unfortunately, in our case, 85 percent of the takeoffs are on Runway 28, obviously to the west, and the east end of the runway is right next to Route 206. It can't go back. It cannot be moved back any further.
MR. McNAMARA: What about going in the other direction? Is there room to expand that runway?
MR. RAYNER: Sure.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: But we've been--
MR. RAYNER: It can go a little bit to the west of the runway, but only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the takeoffs are to the east. Actually, it may wind up that that will happen, but still it is only 10 percent to 15 percent of the takeoffs.
MR. McNAMARA: One of the things that we are concerned about in addition to municipal relationships is the safety of aircraft operations. One of the things that we believe -- at least I believe -- is that perhaps the thing that inures most greatly to safe aircraft operations is a longer runway. The coincident benefit is that it also inures to the reduction of noise for the adjoining landowners.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Wouldn't you be expending that into another area where you have landowners? If you extend the runway, unless you have open fields or open land, you would get the same type of problem.
MR. McNAMARA: The noise abatement occurs at the other end. I guess Princeton Airport's "T" junction-- The runway is sort of as a "T" junction with 206 at one end.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: You cannot expand in that direction. If you went to the other end and expanded, the benefit would be to the residents over 206. Just on the other side of 206, whatever is over there, would be the people who would enjoy the benefit of the runway expansion -- the noise abatement from the runway expansion.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: But they do not take off in that direction.
MS. HADINGER: Except 10 percent of the time.
MR. McNAMARA: They take off in both directions, but apparently it is more often that they take off in the other direction.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: They take off west, correct.
MR. RAYNER: To the west.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: And, of course, that is probably 90 percent of the takeoffs. I very seldom see a plane take off--
So your point is well taken. It is just that-- One of the things, too, I can mention now, is that expanding the runway is one of the biggest problems that the residents have, because they expect bigger jets then, getting back to the jet issue. Every time that is mentioned, even for safety reasons, we--
MR. McNAMARA: But you already have jets.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: No, but I am talking about expanding to the 747s, or whatever you want to call them.
MR. McNAMARA: That is controlled by the strength of the runway, not the length of the runway.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Absolutely. Understood.
MR. RAYNER: We think we have the situation resolved with the Airport, in any case.
MR. McNAMARA: The situation what?
MR. RAYNER: With respect to the length of the runway, we think we have that resolved to the satisfaction of the Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, my question is by way of encouraging lengthening for safety. Your problem is noise abatement. I am just trying to mention a coincident benefit there. It inures both to safety and to noise abatement. Apparently noise abatement, in your particular case, would occur only at the end of the runway that has the least amount of use. It would still inure to safety.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: That is a good point, which I think we should include in our presentation.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the public, or the municipal government in Princeton perceive realistically, as opposed to perceive, any other problem with the Airport, first of all, with aircraft operations? Do you get complaints that they are hazardous?
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: That airplanes are going to fall out of the sky.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Yes, of course, because of the antics of the pilots. You know, they were taking off, making sharp turns before they reached their elevation. Those things were happening. We have videos of those types of things.
That has all gone away now. But there were people really frightened.
MS. HADINGER: There were some photographs of airplanes almost doing your jet maneuvers, your fighter pilot jet maneuvers, making passes -- photographs of aircraft doing that.
MR. McNAMARA: That was because of a particular pilot, right? That is not something that would be recurring.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: No, but it stopped.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
What about pollution? Have you received any complaints about pollution? I am not suggesting that we find these as being legitimate. I am just looking for what your public perceives.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I served on an Environmental Commission for years, and no one has ever brought that subject up.
MR. McNAMARA: So you would say that in terms of it being a hazardous activity, or a polluting activity, you do not receive any complaints about that. You receive complaints, primarily, about it being a noisy activity.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: We did have a hazard when the pilots were not acting corecctly.
MR. McNAMARA: Except for those particular incidents, which, I guess, were all during a certain period of time.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Right. That went on for about a year.
MR. McNAMARA: And then they seemed to end.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: My final question is: We have had Senator Schluter come before us, and we received yesterday a bill in the Assembly from Assemblyman Lance. These two items of legislation, both of which recommend some procedure which seems to parrot a procedure suggested by the League of Municipalities, where there would be an overview procedure for airports making applications to their townships for variances, building permits, or any other kind of application when they want to make some improvement to the airport, some change to the airport.
The concerns were that the League of Municipalities was concerned because two townships would be located close to one another -- of course they would be close to one another -- but the airport would be close to the border, and the township that had jurisdiction over the airport was not the township that might be most affected by the noise from the airport. The other township would like to get into the act, other than coming to the host township, which might, if it didn't own the airport, at least be very much in favor of whatever the improvement would be, without a concern for the other township.
These bills are recommending some kind of an appellate process, or a higher hearing level, where these applications would be brought to address a situation where two things would occur: One, everyone could get their oar into the issue, and two, it would also expedite the proceeding to minimize the expense of it.
MR. RAYNER: If I understand you correctly, this would not go before the municipal planning board or the municipal governing body. It would go to a higher level.
MR. McNAMARA: It would go to the higher level. In your case, for example, if Princeton Airport were going to make an application, the application would go to a State agency. Montgomery Township would be a respondent at the hearing, and Princeton Township -- which I assume is the other one -- would be a respondent at the hearing. But there is no suggestion that the ordinances of Montgomery Township would not be the -- would not have to be obeyed. Ir ia only that there would be -- instead of these things being heard by your, whatever the appropriate board would be -- a planning board, a board of adjustments -- it would be heard by an overview commission or a State agency.
They recommended, I think, that the Department of Commerce and Economic Development-- Or, what was it?
MR. RAYNER: Before you go any further--
MR. HINES: The Office of State Planning.
MR. McNAMARA: What?
MR. HINES: The Office of State Planning.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, the Office of State Planning.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: I can't believe that any municipality would accept that, that they would be hosting something like an airport or something that had a major impact, that they would give up the right to another agency. If you get one, I will be surprised.
MS. HADINGER: I'm sorry. Municipal planning boards -- I don't think they should be sold short. They traditionally have to deal with areas of land that are border areas of land in which an industrial park might be located, a Mount Laurel housing development, and notices have to go out to all of the affected municipalities. The planning boards are fairly well equipped and appreciate the public input process, and deal with the concerns of border municipalities.
I am not sure why airports should be treated differently than other border areas of municipalities.
MR. RAYNER: I suspect that this legislation is proposed because of the situation in Hunterdon County. I think in that case -- if my memory serves me correctly -- there is an airport where the runway practically goes across town borders. Is that accurate? Whether I am accurate in that or not, if you have a case where almost literally a runway crosses a municipal boundary, you might be able to make a case for what you say, because clearly it is going to have an immediate impact on both municipalities.
But short of something like that, I think the municipalities would not receive that very well.
MR. McNAMARA: I just wanted your comments on it. We are only trying to see what the feeling about it would be.
Are there any other questions? (no response)
Well, I can't thank you enough for preparing as you have prepared, for coming here and taking the time you have taken, and for giving the quality testimony you have given today. It has been enormously helpful to us.
I encourage you to complete this questionnaire, submit it to us, and we would be happy to accept from you-- We have already accepted your prepared statement. If you have other items that you would like to submit to us, we would be happy to add them as exhibits to the transcript. And if you have further thoughts about what the Legislature could do to improve relationships between your municipality and your Airport, recognizing that the Legislature recognizes a benefit from maintaining that Airport -- and from your testimony, you do, too -- please submit that to us at any time, I would say before the end of April. We would like to have that.
Once again, thank you very, very much.
MAYOR MATTHEWS: Okay. Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: Members of my Commission -- Mr. Engle, would you please return, I see you are in the room -- we need to talk. We need to talk to Harry.
First of all, for the record, I don't know if we have on the record a welcome to Mr. Donahue -- Kevin Donahue, who is here from the Office of Legislative Services.
Kevin, would you please state what your title is?
MR. DONAHUE: I am a Research Assistant with the Office of Legislative Services.
MR. McNAMARA: Will you be assisting us?
MR. DONAHUE: Just for today until the staffing arrangements can be worked out.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. We are very happy to have you, very pleased to see you. We are at the threshold of receiving support from OLS. That is what I was doing this morning. In fact, I was preparing a communication with OLS.
Mr. White, are you hungry?
MR. WHITE: I am good for the day here. That's what we do.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. You don't have to go?
MR. WHITE: No, sir, I don't.
MR. McNAMARA: I see that we have Mr. Reilly here, who has been waiting patiently.
I am going to carry on, because we are running well off the pace. But I will excuse Commissioners if they would like to go and get some lunch. Take the time to do it, and then return. Mr. White, if you would like someone to pick up anything for you, we would be happy to bring something back.
MR. WHITE: Thank you, but that won't be necessary.
MR. McNAMARA: I do encourage those who want to, to go off and get some lunch and then return. We will be in session the whole time.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Chairman, one thing of note. I received a call before. Lakewood Township, which was on the agenda, will not be coming today.
MR. McNAMARA: Did they give a reason?
MR. ENGLE: I did not get a reason from my secretary. They just called. They said that something had come up. However, they would like to be rescheduled for our next meeting. I will be taking care of that.
MR. McNAMARA: Good.
Having just entered the room, is that the representatives of Alexandria Township? (affirmative response from audience) Okay.
Mr. Reilly, I see that you are here, sir.
P A T R I C K R E I L L Y: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you come up? (witness complies)
Mr. Reilly is the Curator -- I believe that is correct to say -- at the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame, an aviation museum, and is the prime depository of New Jersey's aviation history. In fact, is it correct that you have written a book on New Jersey's aviation history?
MR. REILLY: Right, 200 years.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Reilly, do you swear the testimony you are about to give this Commission is true, subject to the laws of perjury of the State of New Jersey?
MR. REILLY: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: We are all most anxious for you to proceed. We understand that you brought a movie.
MR. REILLY: We did. I don't know how we are going to set it up, only because of the plugs on the floor. There seems to be one back here. I would assume that if the Commission members moved around and sat in those seats, we could show it that way.
MR. McNAMARA: We will be happy to do that. We will refrain from asking questions during the course of the movie, so that we will not have to move microphones. However, you are going to have to stay near a microphone, one of the short mikes.
MR. REILLY: No, it is an audio-visual. It has its own sound.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, it has its own sound.
MR. REILLY: It has its own sound.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, okay. Then we just have to have a mike near you.
MR. WHITE: Our equipment is really not set up to record from TV or video presentations. I don't know what the suggestion might be. It would certainly be great for your Commission members. However, there is no way to reflect that in the record.
MR. McNAMARA: All right. I believe Mr. Reill has something.
MR. REILLY: That is the tape you will hear with the slides, and you can have it.
MR. WHITE: Mr. Chairman, we normally, as a matter of course, do not record for the record video presentations, audio presentations. We take live testimony. I will be glad to do whatever you like. However, involving the transcript, it will be severely, severely impaired. It might not even be intelligible.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, we do not want to do things that are not done normally, for the most part. So we won't do that. What we will do--
Is this on videotape, Mr. Reilly?
MR. REILLY: No, this is slides.
MR. McNAMARA: A slide projection. We have a sound track there. We will accept that sound track gratefully and see what we can do to get a transcription of it. We will just have to explore that a little bit to find out.
Everyone can move to a position where they can see the screen. Mr. Reilly, if you will set it up--
MR. REILLY: It will take about six minutes or so, if anyone wants to stretch their legs.
MR. McNAMARA: That's fine.
Should I turn off these lights, Harry?
MR. WHITE: If you would like to go to a recess, I will turn off my equipment. Those mikes can stay on or be turned off. It does not matter.
MR. McNAMARA: This presentation, I believe, takes 35 minutes?
MR. REILLY: Twenty-seven.
MR. McNAMARA: Twenty-seven minutes.
Harry, you can't do any recording while that is going on anyway. Why don't you take that time to yourself? I am concerned about your having some lunch.
MR. WHITE: Thank you for your concern.
Very well, Mr. Chairman, then I will turn off the recording equipment. This will not be on the record. That is our normal procedure.
MR. McNAMARA: We will look for your return, or someone's return about 2:15.
MR. WHITE: Very well. Thank you, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Great.
MR. WHITE: Okay, Mr. Reilly. Please go ahead, sir.
MR. REILLY: Okay. Thank you.
In 1924, they were looking for a place to use as an airmail terminal. They had been using Belmont Racetrack earlier, but flying this type aircraft, and they didn't fly more than a couple of thousand feet. In bad weather, it got to be a little bit tricky trying to fly from there to Cleveland, which was one of the main stops to keep the mail going -- transcontinental -- and going over New York City, with the buildings. So they came out to New Jersey and they found Hadley's farm in South Plainfield. They set up Hadley Field, and that became the main terminus of all of the mail for the greater metropolitan area -- all the airmail. They flew over the Alleghenies and into Cleveland. Then it was picked up by other pilots and flown further west. The first night airmail flight was flown by Dean Smith in 1925.
We got a break in New Jersey because Lakehurst was chosen for the base for dirigibles and blimps. Of course, that hanger was built in 1922, and they still claim it is the largest building in the world as far as the whole inside of it, the whole square footage of it. The first American dirigible built was the Shenandoah. That was built at Lakehurst and flight tested, of course, in that area. But then in 1925, over a farm in Ohio, it split into three parts during a storm and crashed.
One of the three parts was free ballooned down and saved six or seven members of the crew. At that time, Admiral Rosendahl -- later Admiral Rosendahl, he was then a commander -- happened to be in that part of the dirigible at the time that it broke in half. He instructed them to bring it down. Rosendahl then became the head of the Lakehurst Naval Base and, of course, he was also a naval captain and participated in World War II as a naval captain before he came back to the base.
The end of dirigible flights occurred, of course, at Lakehurst in 1938, when the zeppelin Hindenburg burst into flames and burned. In something like 38 seconds, it was all down and gone.
There were two men who were very instrumental in the progress of aviation, and both had roots in New Jersey. One was Charles Linear Lawrence, who invented the air-cooled engine, and then affiliated with Wright Aeronautical and became its president -- first its engineer, and then its president. The other was Anthony Fokker, who built the Red Baron's plane during World War I, for the Germans. He had a plant in Holland, but he came over here after the war and set up a plant at Teterboro. He took over from the Wittermans. The Wittermans went broke because of the barling bomber. They were not being paid regularly by the government. So Fokker took over their plant, and he started building his aircraft.
Now, in the early 1920s -- I can't think of the date right now -- there was a hotelier from New York -- whose name escapes me at the moment -- who put up a prize of $25,000 for the first person to fly between New York and Paris, nonstop. For seven years, people tried, but they weren't really prepared to do it. Then, in 1926, Admiral Byrd, with Floyd Bennett, flew over the North Pole in a New Jersey-built Fokker plane powered by three Wright Whirlwing engines and, all of a sudden, there was a power plant powerful enough to make the flight across the Atlantic.
So from that point on, everybody tried to do it. As soon as Byrd got back from his North Pole flight, he contracted for another Fokker plane names the America, as you can see here, with three more powerful Wright engines to make the flight. In addition to that, Clarence Chamberlin, who lived in Teterboro and had been flying a plane that was built by Wright Aeronautical and had been its test pilot, also got into the race, and a man by the name of Levine bought the plane and became his partner for this flight.
But it was someone who was really unknown at that point in time, Charles Lindbergh, who came-- He actually came to Wright Aeronautical and said, "I want to buy your airplane." Wright Aeronautical said-- They got together their brass and they said, "We don't want to sell it to this guy. We don't know him, and we don't want it to be a failure. We have our engines on it and it is our airplane."
So Lindbergh went back to San Diego and, with backers' money, he built the "Spirit of St. Louis." He came back east and happened to be the first one to take off, only because of political reasons, basically, infighting among people at Roosevelt Field. Lindbergh was the first one to get into the air and make the flight. And 33-and-a-half hours later, he landed at LeBourget Airport in Paris and became the greatest American hero in the first half of the 20th century.
MR. McNAMARA: Did he have a right engine?
MR. REILLY: He had a right engine, but it was an Orion plane.
MR. McNAMARA: It was a right Whirlwing. MR. REILLY: Right, a Whirlwing. Now, this is a--
MR. McNAMARA: That was manufactured in--
MR. REILLY: In Paterson.
MR. McNAMARA: In Paterson.
MR. REILLY: In Paterson.
This is a right engine. This is the Bilanka plane -- Wright-Bilanka plane -- that Chamberlin used. Chamberlin flew to Germany. He flew further than Lindbergh. He flew many more hours. He flew about 42 hours, and today no one remembers Clarence Chamberlin from that time.
Then, later, Byrd made his flight. Chamberlin's flight was two weeks after Lindbergh's. This was a month after Lindbergh's. This is Byrd, Bert Acosta, Bert Balkin, and George Noville, their radioman. They went over in that plane, the America. It had to crash land off the coast of France, because Paris was fogged in when they got there. They got back to the coast and it was clear there. They crashed landed in the water. They are wearing the clothing of the local people, who lent it to them because they were soaking wet.
MR. McNAMARA: Their airplane had a Wright engine?
MR. REILLY: Three Wright engines, and it was built at Teterboro.
MR. McNAMARA: Chamberlin's plane?
MR. REILLY: It had a Wright engine, and it was built in Paterson. It was flight-tested at Teterboro.
MR. McNAMARA: The Bilanka was built in Paterson?
MR. REILLY: Right.
Another Fokker airplane with Wright engines was flown by Maitland and Hagenburger, two Army pilots. They flew in the same time period. They flew from San Francisco to Honolulu. So when they all came back they were all honored and, of course, this is Lindbergh receiving a medal from President Coolidge. Of course, New Jersey took a bow, because three of the airplanes were built in New Jersey and all were powered by Wright engines.
At that point in time, aviation was looked on as an opportunity to go for sight-seeing rides or because of all the flying circuses that were around. One of those was the Gates Flying Circus based at Teterboro. It was nationally known, because during the summer months they would fly all over the country and give performances.
Lindbergh's flight got people into the idea that you could fly further in an airplane and be safe in an airplane at those distances, and things were reliable.
Juan Tripp, who was born in New Jersey, started an airline called Colonial Air Transport, which serviced from Boston to Hartford, Connecticut, into Teterboro, and then down to Hadley Field, carrying both passengers and mail. Then, in 1928, he started Pan-American World Airways. Of course, they started flying out of Florida to Cuba, and they used Fokker airplanes, built in New Jersey, powered by Wright engines. Then, of course, they expanded their routes into South America, using the same type planes, finally getting into the seaplane type.
In 1928, Newark Airport was founded. This is the way Newark looked at that point in time. As you can see, people were permitted to get right up next to the airplanes and even park their automobiles close by. There was no terminal at the beginning. You just went to the hanger that was representing the airline and signed in there to take your flights.
The airmail moved from Hadley Field to Newark at that point in time. Throughout the 1930s, Newark was the busiest airport in the nation, because there was no La Guardia, there was no JFK. When LaGuardia opened in 1939, it put Newark on a second level, because people were flying out of there. Actually, Newark closed for a short period of time, because the municipality -- it wasn't owned by the Port Authority at that time -- was raising the rates so high that La Guardia took the airlines away from them.
The Fokker factory was doing very well. In 1934, an aircraft such as this, which carried 10 passengers, was caught in a storm over Kansas and crashed. One of the passengers happened to be Knute Rockne, the famous football coach, so it made tremendous headlines. Because of that, the airlines pulled their orders back from Fokker -- their future orders back from Fokker -- and the plant was forced to close in New Jersey.
MR. McNAMARA: That plane you showed a slide of was the Fokker Trimotor?
MR. REILLY: The Trimotor F-10, right.
It was about that same time that we set up an Aviation Board in New Jersey that was headed by Gil Rob Wilson. It is now Jack Penn. Gil Rob Wilson was the first Director of Aeronautics, and he held the job until just before -- or right during World War II. He also started the CAP, and he was the Director of the CAP during the war.
One of the reasons -- this is not in our slide show, but you might be interested -- he set up the CAP was that he was invited to Germany in 1937 or 1938, and he was over there seeing everything they had in aeronautics, the way they had Lindbergh over there at another period of time. While he was at a cocktail party, a gentleman came over to him that he described as being very tall and very formal. He said, "Hello. I fought in World War I. I was a submarine commander." And he said, "I have spent time in Atlantic City in New Jersey. I hear you are from New Jersey." Mr. Wilson said, "How did you do that?" The answer was, "Well, we just parked off the coast and came in by boat. We walked the Boardwalk, and there we were in New Jersey."
So Wilson saw that there was a need to have a CAP that was going to fly out there and keep an eye out for submarines coming in that close to our shore. That is how the CAP got started.
MR. McNAMARA: The CAP, for the record, is?
MR. REILLY: The Civil Air Patrol.
All of these pilots were seen very often in New Jersey. Of course, Lindbergh -- the "Spirit of St. Louis" -- on his flights around the country and into Central America after his flight across the ocean-- Lindbergh kept his plane at Teterboro. He met his wife, who was from Englewood, there. Then Frank Hawks was basically at Newark Airport for Texaco, and Jimmy Doolittle made that blind flight. All the early testing for the blind flight was done up in Boonton, because ARC Radio was up there at the time.
This is Clyde Pangborne on the left. He was a partner of Gates in the Gates Flying Circus. He and a fellow named Hugh Hernden made the first flight across the Pacific, which was a 9000-mile flight, in a single-engine plane. The plane and the engine had nothing to do with New Jersey. It was just that Pangborne had become a New Jerseyan.
These are the first black pilots to fly across the United States in 1933. The one on the right is Dr. Forsythe, the one on the left is C. Alfred Anderson. Dr. Forsythe financed the flight -- he was also a pilot -- and Anderson was the copilot with him. Anderson later became the leading instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen. Later, they were the first blacks to fly across international borders with a flight to Canada, and then down into the Caribbean. Although Dr. Forsythe passed away five or six years ago, in Trinidad they still celebrate, once a year, this first flight into Trinidad. Mrs. Forsythe goes down there and is part of the ceremony.
MR. McNAMARA: Were they from New Jersey?
MR. REILLY: It went from Atlantic City, and then he moved to Newark -- Forsythe moved to Newark. Anderson was not from New Jersey.
MR. McNAMARA: Was Dr. Forsythe originally from New Jersey?
MR. REILLY: No. Actually, he was from Nassau. He was born in Nassau. He was a medical doctor, and he had his practices both in Atlantic City.
MR. McNAMARA: The Trinidad flight started from Atlantic City?
MR. REILLY: From Atlantic City, yes.
This, of course, is Amelia Earhart. Her first flight was in a Fokker Trimotor built here with Wright engines. Of course, she never flew her first flight. She was just a passenger. That was in 1928. Then, in 1932, she flew--
MR. McNAMARA: Wasn't her first flight across the Atlantic?
MR. REILLY: Across the Atlantic, yes.
In 1932, she flew solo across the Atlantic. All the flight testing of her aircraft was done at Teterboro. That is her sitting on the little red plane. Ed Gorsky, on the left, was her mechanic, and Bert Balkin, on the right, who was Fokker's test pilot, also taught her navigation. They flew up to Newfoundland with her before she took off for Ireland.
Another record setter -- female record setter -- was Ruth Nickels. She flew out of the Jersey City Airport and set something like 32 distance, altitude, and those types of records during her career. The Jersey City Airport, by the way, became the Jersey City Baseball Stadium. I understand it is now a housing development.
MR. McNAMARA: Was her airplane or her engine-- (remainder of comment indiscernible; speaking off mike)
MR. REILLY: No, neither.
Ms. Bernie LaBalter, in 1931, was also a record setter when she jumped from this airplane at 17,000 feet over Teterboro. At that point in time, that was a record, certainly for a woman. As most of you know, you didn't breathe too well up there at 17,000 feet. They did not have oxygen, and they barely made it up and back down.
There were junior records set. This one was set over the Westfield Airport. His name is Bob Buck. He was 17 years old. He flew up 17,000 feet and set that record. Then a fellow by the name of Schneider, who was from Jersey City -- 18 years old -- flew from coast to coast and set the junior record, which was later broken by Bob Buck, who set many junior records -- distance flying records -- and then later became the chief pilot of TWA.
This was a record flight of a rocket plane up on Greenwood Lake in 1936. It was shot across the lake, which was ice covered. It landed in Newark, New Jersey. It was sponsored by airmail people who were collectors. They had 600 letters in the nose cone of that and, of course, they became quite famous. We have gotten a couple of them. But it was one of the very early rocket flights in the United States.
MR. McNAMARA: Was it solely powered by rocket engine?
MR. REILLY: Just one rocket engine, a very, very simple thing. We own the plane and the rocket now, but we do not have a place to display it.
MR. McNAMARA: Was it built at Greenwood Lake?
MR. REILLY: No, it was built by the Guggenheim -- at a flight school that Guggenheim had in New York City. The engine was developed by Willie -- someone who was a German. He went back and built the rocket engines for Germany. I can't think of his last name.
During the Depression, things were bad at most airports, and I guess that is what they looked like during that bad time. (indiscernible comment from unidentified member of the Commission off mike)
Well, actually, in those days, if you were there, that little white building would have been your office. That is the Burlow Building.
Then the Bendix Corporation came and took over the Airport and things started to -- this was about 1938 -- pick up. Teterboro was named Bendix Airport for a number of years. The only reason it was ever changed back was because people were-- The mail situation was-- Actually, the whole town was named Bendix, and they were getting their mail confused. So they changed it back.
The Bendix races used to stop at Teterboro -- used to end at Teterboro. They flew to Cleveland, and then went on Teterboro. This is Jackie Cochran. She came in first in 1938.
This is Chet Decker. He won the glider championship in 1937. Then he won again in-- He flew 260 miles from the Glider-- Where is the Glider Museum in New York State?
MR. McNAMARA: Elmira?
MR. REILLY: Yes, up there. He flew from there nonstop to Atlantic City. He won the championship again in 1939.
The war began, of course, in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. We were, at that point in time, preparing for it, but we were not in it. These are planes that were at Newark Airport, and then they were put aboard cargo ships and sent to the other side. Then we got into the war when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.
These, by the way, are Brewster aircraft that were built at Newark Airport. Actually, they were assembled at Newark Airport, and then shipped overseas.
MR. McNAMARA: What were they, fighters that were deployed--
MR. REILLY: Fighters, yes, but they were used out in the-- I think they were purchased by people out in the Far East. They weren't very reliable, from what I understand. They had a lot of problems with them.
MR. McNAMARA: But they were deployed by the United States forces in the Pacific, or--
MR. REILLY: No, no. They were sold to countries over there trying to keep the Japanese out. You know, they were being invaded.
This is the FAA base at Pomona. At that point in time, it was a Naval Air Station down there. Then, these were the aircraft built by the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors in both Trenton and Linden. One was the Wildcat, and the other was the Avenger. As we say on the slide, the men and women built 13,000 of these planes in New Jersey. That is one of them in flight.
The biggest manufacturer in New Jersey, basically during the wartime period, was Curtiss Wright. They had plants in Fair Lawn, East Paterson, Paterson, and Wood-Ridge. They produced 270,000 Wright engines for various aircraft.
The Casey Jones School at Newark produced people to work on all of the aircraft during the war. Twenty thousand is the figure they have in there, 20,000 mechanics.
Then, of course, the civilian population was going into the service. The most famous of all of our New Jersey pilots was Tommy McGuire. He flew out in the Pacific. He is the second leading flying ace -- American flying ace of all time, with 38 kills. He was a major when he died out there in 1945. According to his fellow pilots, he was not shot down, but he was called to the rescue of one of his squadron group. He was about 1000 feet above the ground, he turned the wrong way and he had not switched his fuel tank, and the tank with the fuel in it was the lower tank, and he just went straight in. Of course, the air base at Fort Dix was named for Tommy McGuire. McGuire, by the way, won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Another winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor was General Castle here. General Castle supposedly led the greatest air armada up until that time, something like 2000 aircraft during the Battle of the Bulge from England over Germany. On his way over, his plane was disabled, and he kept it in the air until all his crew got out. Then he went down with it and, as I said, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was from Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. There is an air base out in California named for Castle.
The copilot of the Enola Gay was Bud Lewis, here on the right. He also did all of the test flying of the Enola Gay, both here in the United States and when they got it out onto the islands. Then Tibbets came, who was his boss, and said, "I am going to make this flight," so he was demoted as copilot. I can tell you because I knew him. He was not a happy camper.
We use this as a flyer that says, at that point in time, right after the war, airports expanded their routes and expanded their facilities, but this was well after the war.
This is, of course, Chuck Yeager. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bellex 1. The Bellex 1 was powered by engines built by Reaction Motors of Denville, New Jersey. Then they built the engines for the X-15, which is shown here. We have one of these, by the way. We have both of those engines in our museum. The X-15 flew four times the speed of sound, and was the first plane to fly itself into space. Consequently, commercial aviation began because the engines developed by Wright Aeronautical made it possible to fly long distances and carry a lot of passengers. Then we got into the space industry, because rocket engines were developed here in New Jersey and were proven on these two vehicles, and then we knew we could go further.
It was the time of the jet age, however, at this point in time. All of this talks about the factories that were at Princeton-- What is the name of that place?
MR. McNAMARA: Nutley.
MR. REILLY: --and Nutley -- thank you -- and also at Bendix, which developed all of the things that put us into the jet age, and also got us into the age of going into space.
Of the first seven astronauts, one was Wally Schirra, of Oradell. Wally is the only man to have flown in all three of the first space vehicles -- Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. He is, by the way, going to be the guest speaker at our dinner this year, so if you can make it, come up.
This is Schweickart -- Rusty Schweickart. Rusy is the first man to test this uniform outside a space vehicle without being attached inside. In other words, he tested it on the flight to prove that they could go up onto the moon and they could walk around in space and survive.
Then, of course, there was Buzz Aldrin, who became the first man to land a vehicle on the moon and the first one to get up there and test that piece of equipment.
This is Hart. He flew on one of the shuttle missions. This is Kathy Sullivan, who flew on another shuttle mission and was the first woman to walk in space. Sullivan was from Paterson, by the way.
At that same time, Malcolm Forbes was flying a hot air balloon from coast to coast. He was the first man to accomplish this. Actually, there was another man who flew from coast to coast ahead of him, but his balloon burned, at one point in time, and he finished the flight with another balloon. Forbes did it in just one balloon.
This is Leo Loggerslagger (phonetic spelling), who was the world aerobatic champion in 1980. He was the United States aerobatic champion on seven occasions. He, of course, was from Sussex, New Jersey.
At this point in time, airports were in trouble, as you people are talking about here. Hadley Field was turned into an industrial park in 1968.
Because of all of the history of Teterboro Airport, we decided in 1972 to start something to preserve the history that we are talking about here today. This is the first Board of Directors. There are two lawyers, Fairleigh Dickinson, which you might know, the President of the United Jersey Bank, the publisher of The Record, and Alexander Sommer, who is one of the bigger real estate people in the State. We had those kinds of people on this first seven-member board to start the Museum. I was the only one who had anything to do with aviation, at that point in time, and that was at Teterboro.
We started the Teterboro Aviation Hall of Fame in 1972, and in 1976 we opened a museum on the top two floors of the old control tower at Teterboro, which was made famous by Arthur Godfrey in the 1950s, when he buzzed it in a moment of pique. Arthur kept his plane at Teterboro for 30 years.
In 1979, a law was passed by the Legislature, Governor Byrne signed it into law, and we all went down there for the signing.
MR. McNAMARA: (question indiscernible; no microphone)
MR. REILLY: That is Henry on the right, yes, with hair. Look at that.
Then we opened, in 1985, a small museum as a supplement to the tower museum. We showed the bronze plaques of those who had been elected in, photographs and memorabilia of various events from New Jersey, and aircraft of various kinds. Then, of course, this is that rocket engine that I was talking about which propelled the X-15.
A building similar to this we are hoping to start building this fall, if we can get just a little bit more money. We have all the approvals now.
That is pretty much the end of the slide show.
MR. McNAMARA: Harry, did you get that?
MR. WHITE: It was recorded, yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: We will take a copy of that tape.
Mr. Reilly, if you could relocate to a microphone at the witness table now, from the projector--
For the record, we have just recorded a talk by Mr. Patrick Reilly, who we introduced earlier, which he made while showing slides to the Commission. His talk addressed New Jersey's history in the field of aviation.
Mr. Reilly, you have written a book about New Jersey aviation history. Would you please just pick up with the comments you were making as you commenced your presentation at the time we were off the record? Just add them to the record now.
MR. REILLY: Yes, sir. Thank you.
We like to think, in New Jersey, that we have more aviation history than any state in the nation. The Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum at Teterboro Airport preserves that history and honors those people who made the history. We are very proud of the history, and we are very proud that we have been able to gather all of the information we have and are able to keep it in a archive.
We get calls from all over the United States, and we have people writing to us from various European countries looking for information about various activities that have gone on in aviation in New Jersey that basically had to do with them. Also, we have more history of the Curtiss Wright Corporation than any other organization in the world. Now we are getting referrals from the Air and Space Museum and from Curtiss Wright itself. They refer people to us, because they do not have the records.
So we are very proud of what we have, and we are hoping to expand it.
MR. McNAMARA: Three famous names in aviation, of course, were those of the Wright brothers -- Orville and Wilbur Wright -- and Gwen Curtiss, the earliest pioneers in power flight. When you talk about the Curtiss Wright Corporation, does that name signify that there was a merger of those two names?
MR. REILLY: Yes, there was. It was Wright Aeronautical originally. Then Curtiss Aviation.
MR. McNAMARA: Curtiss Aircraft.
MR. REILLY: They merged and they continued to build their aircraft in Buffalo, basically, and their engines here in New Jersey.
MR. McNAMARA: Speaking about the Aviation Hall of Fame Museum, do you have children of school age -- grammar school and high school age coming to your museum? Do they frequent your museum?
MR. REILLY: All the time. We have tours almost every day, preschool up through high school. Then, of course, college groups will come in, but for different reasons. They are not just bused in, but they do come through.
MR. McNAMARA: These are children who come from various towns in New Jersey?
MR. REILLY: All over New Jersey, New York, and some from as far away as Connecticut.
MR. McNAMARA: These children, do they show evidence of fascination with flight, with aviation, as you see them at your museum?
MR. REILLY: Yes. Basically, it has to do with the age, of course. So some come in and they are fascinated with looking at the engines, for instance, and then reading the histories that are around the area and seeing the motion pictures. The younger ones come in and they want to sit in the helicopter and fly it and walk out on the passenger plane in the back, just because of the difference in age.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you have given us an audio sound track that sometime could be used if we did not have the benefit of you making personal commentary, which I am sure is much better? That sound track and the comments on it, and the slide show-- Was that all edited or produced by you and the Aviation Hall of Fame Museum?
MR. REILLY: Yes, it was. We are requested, I would say on an average of 40 times a year, to go out and show that to service clubs, schools, and other groups.
MR. McNAMARA: My point is, you can verify that all the statements made there are correct? I am not talking about the testimony you have already given, but the statements on the sound track are correct?
MR. REILLY: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there other questions for Mr. Reilly? (no response)
Mr. Reilly, do you have other comments you would like to make?
MR. REILLY: No, sir.
Thank you for having me.
MR. McNAMARA: We can't thank you enough for coming down and being so patient with us, and for adding to our record a very important aspect of aviation in the State of New Jersey, which is its vital history, of which we should all be proud.
Is Ronald Perrine here? (affirmative response from audience) Mr. Perrine, would you please come forward? Mr. Perrine is the Deputy Mayor of Alexandria Township.
Are you here with an associate, sir?
D E P U T Y M A Y O R R O N A L D P E R R I N E: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Perrine, do you swear the testimony you are about to give this Commission is true, subject to the laws of perjury in the State of New Jersey?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I do, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have a prepared statement that you would like to make regarding the Township of Alexandria and the relationship it has with its Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No, just my initial background: I have been on the political committees of Alexandria Township either as a mayor or a committeeman for approximately 11 years. I am here today because our Mayor is on vacation and asked me to come down before you. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
MR. McNAMARA: You are here to represent the township at the request of your Mayor?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: That is correct, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: You are fully familiar with the Alexandria Airport and its relationship with your community?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes. I am probably the longest serving Committeeman in Alexandria Township presently on the Committee, so I am more familiar than any other committeeman or the Mayor.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you tell us, sir, about that relationship? Is it a good relationship?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I would say that our relationship, as a community, with the Airport has been positive through my time in being in Alexandria Township.
MR. McNAMARA: It is a positive one now?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Correct, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: By positive you mean that the township appreciates having its Airport, and the Airport enjoys being located in the town?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Can you tell us what sorts of benefits accrue to the township because the Airport is located there?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: We have, besides the Airport offering facilities that any airport would have, both instruction and air taxi. It provides a recreational facility for its balloon festival. I think this will be the third or fourth one they have had, which is very positive for the community. We have attempted to make the Airport an integral part of the community through zoning, and to eliminate the negative impacts that it may have on the community.
If you want me to proceed in this manner, I will.
MR. McNAMARA: Yes, if you would. That's excellent. Get into talking about what you have done to address any negative impact, and also how you have encouraged it to become an integral part and take advantage of its being there. Especially address the balloon festival and why that is a good function for the community.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: The family that owns our Airport has tried to make the balloon festival, besides being a commercial event, something the community can participate in. The community, in exchange for this, makes an effort to see that the balloon festival can proceed in a manner such that it functions more smoothly. For instance, we make a road that goes past the entrance to the runway.
MR. McNAMARA: That's a good idea.
It is hard to hear you.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Oh, I'm sorry.
We make that road one-way for the balloon festival. We get participation from the Fire Department, which monitors the field. They make some revenue from it.
The residents immediately surrounding the Airport eliminate seem to enjoy this by having lawn parties, and such, to watch the balloons ascent. It is kind of like a block party for the whole township, especially those people who are immediately surrounding the Airport, which would be those folks, maybe, most impacted by the Airport being there. Everyone kind of makes an effort to put up with some of the things we have to, like one-way roads for the balloon festival and the tremendous amount of traffic.
I would say that we get very little negative impact from it. I have been Road Chairman for the last 10 years, and the road crew is seldom called out because of problems there, as far as garbage, or such. People do an excellent job of keeping it clean, policing it. For the rural area we are, we put an awful lot of people through the Airport if the weather is nice.
Zoning: About 10 years ago, when I first came on the committee, we realized at the time that zoning around an airport should not have houses built in the immediate approaches to the runway. So we attempted, at that time, to zone around the Airport in Alexandria Township a business zone, where you would have one-story buildings manufacturing different things.
This was defeated. The nature of Alexandria Township is a very, very high percentage of bedroom people working at AT&T and Foster Wheeler. This is where they live. They do not want industry there. The other part of Alexandria Township, of course, is made up of farms. It was a farming area. It was the last area in Hunterdon County to be developed, probably because it never had very good access to it. It was very poor farmland. It's hilly. But it had a quaint beauty about it -- the few farms that were there. They have developed Alexandria Township now as a bedroom community for AT&T and Foster Wheeler. We have virtually no industry.
So our attempt, 10 years ago, to zone around Alexandria Field business, light industry, was a failure. We still realized, and I think this is when the State came in with the -- I am not real good on the history of this -- with the approach zones where you could not build--
MR. McNAMARA: The Airport Safety Act, the Airport Safety Zone Act, the Airport Safety Zoning Act?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Right, yes.
That impacted the Airport, of course, but the areas immediately surrounding that we have zoned air park, which, so far, seems to be working far better than our attempt to zone it for industry.
MR. McNAMARA: The air part would be a residential type--
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I believe it is 10 acres -- I am not positive -- but it is a large parcel where someone who would like to have an airplane and have access to the runway can build a home and have access to the runway, in most instances. Now, I know of one where they have to cross a public thoroughfare. Eventually, it is hoped that this road, which is kind of bisecting this, will be shut down, and we will loop the road around so that the road circles the Airport, instead of coming along one side of it. This has been our attempt, and, so far, this seems to be working. It has not lowered the value of their surrounding lands to the Airport to a lesser extent, and it seems to satisfy the people who are surrounding that area that it is not a business or industry. They can tolerate one house and an airplane.
MR. McNAMARA: Did it ever become commercially zoned around the Airport? You said that attempt was a failure, but did it become-- Did the zoning take effect and then not work?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: It may have been for awhile. I am not positive, but it may have been for awhile. However, it was so restricted that no one would want to be involved. I mean, how many limousine services can you have at a small country airport? How many food service areas can you have at a small country airport, which is basically what our Airport -- Alexandria Field -- is?
We also have another Airport in our township that we share with another township -- Sky Manor -- which has a restaurant. It has very extensive hanger facilities, probably more so than Alexandria Field, but it does not have a balloon festival. It does have a paved runway, but so does Alexandria now. It is one that had a small industrial base around it, but nothing extensive. There are some storage there, a few things. We do not have any problem, I don't believe, with that Airport either. That has never become a problem in our township. It borders, I think, Franklin Township.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you receive complaints from people in Franklin Township?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I would say, no, we don't.
MR. McNAMARA: And you don't receive complaints from people in your township about the Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: We do, on occasion, receive a complaint. I can't say that we don't.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the frequency, once a year, once a month?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I would say in the summertime, perhaps once a month when the flying activity is the greatest.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the nature of the complaint?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: It is usually noise. Noise is by far our biggest problem. We hear more problems with aviation in our area from an airport in Pennsylvania, where they tow gliders extensively. I believe it is in Irwin, but I do not know the name of the field. That is the one that is constantly in the paper.
MR. McNAMARA: Are you located close to Pennsylvania?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, we are. We are about six to ten miles, as the crow flies.
MR. McNAMARA: Aircraft taking off in Pennsylvania towing gliders pose a problem in Alexandria?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No, sir. I'm sorry, you misconstrued my-- In the local newspaper of airport problems -- and the local newspaper serves both Alexandria and parts of Pennsylvania -- almost all of the airport problems concern an airport in Pennsylvania. We see very little for Alexandria Field or Sky Manor. I don't believe I have seen, in 10 years, more than one or two incidents where we had a problem in our area.
MR. McNAMARA: At either one of the Airports, Sky Manor or Alexandria?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Right, right. We have tried, as a community, and I should say as a committee, to accommodate the airports, the same as we have made a very, very strenuous, strong attempt to accommodate the farms and the problems they create. Fortunately, we have always maintained a committee that has at least one farmer on it who tends to be, perhaps, a little more tolerant of some of the problems that communities have, as opposed to people who just move into a community.
MR. McNAMARA: Just tell me, as a representative of Alexandria, what economic contribution, either through jobs or direct benefits, tourism, dollars, does your Airport make toward your community?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I cannot tell you specific dollars. I know the balloon festival employs a large portion of the high school -- I believe it is the cheerleading squad -- for their Airport balloon festival. The Airport facility employs two mechanics, who work at the facility. The training facilities provide employment to, probably, three or four pilot instructors. But I cannot tell you any more than this, because I am not actually actively involved.
MR. McNAMARA: It could be more, but you would be unaware of it.
How about business that comes into the community via the Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I think the business we have in the community is not business as you would approach it as business. We only have businessmen who live in the community. Some of it is a very, very affluent community where we have people who own companies or are very high up in companies who use the facility to commercially fly out of by chartering a plane or maintaining their own plane there. Probably more maintain their own aircraft at the Field than use it for business purposes. There are some charters, I believe, being done.
We have, in the community, those types of people. We have people who use it as a place to live, a bedroom community, who do not necessarily have a need for an airport. Then we have the farmers and landowners, who don't really have any need either. I would say that most of the people maintain their own aircraft there either or recreation or business. A lot of their children start instruction there.
MR. McNAMARA: Are you saying it is primarily the business usage of the Airport? It would be business executives who operate their aircraft out of that Airport for their own personal transportation, primarily?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Or to be picked up there by the company plane or helicopter -- the landing facility.
MR. McNAMARA: I see.
Is Exxon near Alexandria Field?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: We have Exxon; we have Foster Wheeler; we have AT&T.
MR. McNAMARA: Are they users of the Airport? Their executives use this Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes. I know there are a lot of smaller companies, people I know personally, who have a plane there or use it as an access to planes that their companies may own. It is a lot more important than-- You are not going to find Bethlehem Steel -- a hanger full of Bethlemem Steel jets at our country Airport. The facilities can't handle that. There is no need for it. But there is a need because of the number of people in the community who do use small planes and do need the facilities there to either be picked up or dropped off at that Airport. That helps a lot to increase the number of people in the community who are substantial members of the community.
You have to have that facility. We have no rail service. Our bus service is further away. Well, it's Clinton and Frenchtown now. But people who are in major positions in companies do not take buses and do not take trains. They want to be picked up, and they want to be moved through now. Time is money to these people. I believe the Airport being there has been an asset in the past, and I think the asset is going to increase in the future in that particular light where people need to go places quickly. The facility has been upgraded tremendously. They have gone from gravel runways to -- I believe it is asphalt. Sky Manor has a concrete runway, which was always the place where you took an airplane that was a little -- a lot more expensive, because they didn't have the gravel problems. Sky Manor had a problem with a short runway and high tension wires, where Alexandria has a longer runway and clear approaches on both ends, plus a crosswind runway.
So upgrading these two with macadam, which was done, probably, three or four years ago, was a major improvement on that Airport, where companies now will send in a little better plane to pick someone up without fear of damage from gravel.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you feel-- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
Do you feel that your Airport makes any steady contribution to the community in addition to the economic contribution? I am thinking specifically about, does it preserve its, say, open spaces, green site views, woodlands, wildlife habitats, wetlands?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes. The Airports eat up vast amounts of land. If they don't, you have nothing but problems with them, because people will build up right next to them. So keeping an airport in the center of a couple of hundred acres naturally is aesthetic, especially in our community where everybody is looking to preserve "farmland." It is really open space. This is a major point that we bring up with people who have concerns about an airport. We tell them, you know, it is 200 acres -- or whatever it is -- of open space. Yes, airplanes do make noise, but so do 100 houses full of children.
We have been very lucky. We have had a family -- and I am only speaking now of Alexandria, more so than Sky Manor, because I do not know the history of Sky Manor as well as I do Alexandria -- there that has tried to maintain the area around the Airport as a farm and keep it going, when it could have been sold, probably, many times, at least eight years ago, when real estate was worth a tremendous amount of money in our township -- rural land. They could have sold a good portion of the Airport and probably brought houses a lot closer to it, but they elected to not to that, but just keep it in farming, which they did.
MR. McNAMARA: Is there some economic consideration in preferring an airport -- other than the economic benefit that comes from having an airport-- Is there an economic benefit that comes from not having houses developed on the 200-acre tract?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Well, every house you build is a net loss, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Is that right?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Absolutely. You cannot build a house, put two children through school, and expect to make a profit on the house. It costs the community money. This is where we are right now in our township. I don't think you want to get into that, but we have real problems. Ten years ago, they did not want an industrial base in our township, so we do not have it. But we have an awful lot of school expansion. Our taxes are going up tremendously this year, because of a problem when Florio was in there. But that is another story.
MR. McNAMARA: When who was in there?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Governor Florio.
MR. McNAMARA: You may say that more loudly, if you like. (laughter)
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I don't want to go too far along here, but we just got a very great shock. We spent our surplus. Our auditors were not astute, or we did not question them enough to realize that that surplus should have been replaced. This year, we are going to start replacing surplus, because we are out of money, partly because of the schools. It costs a lot of money to educate children.
We are trying to zone the township now so that we have larger home sites, so we won't get as many houses being built, i.e., not so many children going to the schools. For some reason, down here you determine that every child should be educated just so. You tell the townships up by us that they have to build a school with so many square feet per child, and rooms with so many square feet per child. It just costs a lot of money.
MR. McNAMARA: You actually would have been better off, I suppose, if you had kept or gone forward with that industrial zoning around the Airport. Is that because a lot gets developed industrially and will pay a greater portion per square foot in tax revenues than when it is developed residentially?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: They do that. You also have a deferred system where-- If you put a piece of property into industry, the industry is built there and developed, yes, it does draw people to run the industry, and those people will move in maybe around the community and they may have children. But you deferred that tax liability to educate those children at least back a couple of years.
What has happened in Exxon, Foster Wheeler, AT&T, they have developed in other communities that have given them tax incentives -- when that was allowed -- to come there. People have driven around with Realtors and stuff, and found out that Alexandria Township is a very nice place to live. It is beautiful. It is very, very beautiful, with hilly terrain. It is a very, very nice rural area. It is an excellent place to live. This is why they decide to live in Alexandria Township.
When people come there and they spend $300,000, $400,000 for a home, they don't necessarily want a small manufacturing plant in the community or anywhere near them. I am the only surviving Committeeman of the industrial park problem. The other two gentlemen were not rehired. So it just didn't work out.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the Airport itself make any significant revenue contribution through taxes?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I am not prepared to answer that. I do not know what their tax liability is or how they handle it.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the Airport provide any other contribution to the community in the nature of a location for fire-fighting equipment, a police station, a road servicing depot, or some other such service?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I do not believe so.
MR. McNAMARA: Do I summarize correctly when I say that the relationship between your community and your Airport is a good one?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Is there a way to improve this relationship, or is it good enough as it is?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Before we put the zoning around the Airport for air park, I believe that anything you could have done to keep people from moving too close to the thresholds of the runway, was a positive thing to do. For some reason, they seem to always want to move under the flight path of incoming or outgoing airplanes, and then they tell us it is a problem after they have moved there.
We had a major problem with Sky Manor in a development about six years ago, where we insisted, as a committee, that the planner move the project from Sky Manor down toward the main road, because it was going to be a problem. For some reason, he did not want to do it. That project is still not being built today for that and some other reasons. You can't sell lots next to airports.
However, what we did was make them put in the deeds that anyone who purchased the property -- that they were well aware in the deed that the Airport had superseded them there and did have the right to continue as an Airport, and that they were aware of this. Whether it would actually hold up on court, I do not know, but we attempted at all cost to get the houses away from Sky Manor.
MR. McNAMARA: Do your Airport and your community have a committee -- an Airport committee -- which would sit representatives of the community, representatives of the Airport, representatives of the township government to discuss Airport matters?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No, sir. You can come to the township committee meeting, if anyone has a problem. We keep it as an open meeting, similar to what they have in New England. It is not that formal. If you have a problem, you can tell us, whatever it is, whether it is airplanes, cows, chickens, or your neighbor.
MR. McNAMARA: How does that then get communicated to the Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: If there is a problem with anything in our community, we try, before we send a zoning officer, a Board of Health person, or anyone, anywhere-- We always try to make it so that you would get a letter from the community, from the Mayor, or from the committee, stating: "We have a problem with what you are doing. Would you like to come in and discuss it with us?" Hopefully, as long as I am on the committee, we can continue to do it that way.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you know if your Airport has an approved master plan in accord with the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: In Alexandria, do you think the majority of the people and/or the majority of your municipal government would be interested in the Airport maintaining itself in its existing condition? We are talking about growth versus remaining the same or growing smaller.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: The more knowledgeable people in the community that understand the dynamics of the community, the way people move in and out, the types of jobs they have, what we are trying to foster as a community of people would not mind if the Airport expanded within the parameters that we would have to go over with these people.
What we would have a problem with is, they have a crosswind runway that abuts a road. That is one of the main problems. That runway should be lengthened. That road should be moved. We have it, I believe tentatively, in our master plan at least penciled in where the road would move. The township will not build the road, because that would not look -- would look like we were building the road for a particular person there. But if that was done, and if the runway was expanded, as long as the approach or departure from that runway -- I don't believe at the present time would encroach on any houses at that particular end. We could still do it, and we could still put that through as an improvement to the Airport or to the community.
If you sell that farm that is going to be on that approach and put houses in there, we are going to have a terrible time doing it. We cannot expand the runways or the Airport where it is going to directly affect people living under it. You can't buy their houses, and you can't buy enough width to provide for that flight path. So if you are going to do it, you have to do it soon.
MR. McNAMARA: You don't have another one of these books handy, do you? (no response) Pete, could you give that to the witness, please? (Mr. Hines complies) Open it to page 12.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Perrine--
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: I have put before you a photograph taken from the air of Alexandria Field in Pittstown.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: By the way, it is Alexandria, right?
That is the political entity. It is the Township of Alexandria, right?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Correct, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Is Pittstown a political entity also, or is it just a location within Alexandria Township?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: It is a town within Alexandria Township.
MR. McNAMARA: But without a separate political existence?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: It has no political existence. I mean, it is not a separate political entity, no.
MR. McNAMARA: Right.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: It is just a town, the same as Trenton is in Mercer County.
MR. McNAMARA: But Trenton is a municipal entity.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Okay. I'm sorry. Pittstown isn't.
MR. McNAMARA: Is not?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No.
MR. McNAMARA: That's what I thought.
I refer you to that photograph. It shows a runway indicated with an 8 on the left side of the photograph, 26 on the right side. Is that the runway you are referring to? Are you referring to the one that has 13 and a 31 at opposite ends?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: And the road you are referring to is the one at the end where the 31 is?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir. That line of trees that goes under the 2 on Runway 26, that goes under 31 and comes towards you. It would go out to a road that goes under -- almost underneath the 8. There is a road under there. That is called Airport Road. To expand Runway 13/31, it would have to move toward the southeast, and that road would make a loop actually, like on the parameter of that picture, so that it would not be right at the beginning of Runway 31.
MR. McNAMARA: The runway indicated as -- we'll call that 8/26. Under the 8, could that runway be expanded out in that direction?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir. I am incorrect. That farm, I believe-- That is a farm driveway, not a road, sir, that I said was under the 8. I said that was a road. That is incorrect. That is a farm there. Yes, the road that would cross perpendicular to Runday 8 is not in the picture, so Runway 8 could be expanded.
MR. McNAMARA: For the record, the witness is referring to the 1995-1996 New Jersey Airport Directory, prepared and published by the New Jersey Division of Aeronautics. He is referring to the aeronautical photograph -- an aerial photograph rather -- taken of Alexandria Field set forth on page 12 of that publication.
How far out could that runway be expanded? Could it go twice its length?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I do not know, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: If it did, would the township have any objection to that?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: We have a development at the -- I guess you would call it if you were taking off on Runway 26-- There is a development on the departure end of that across the road. That may be a problem. That is already in place. We can save 31.
MR. McNAMARA: Say it again?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: That is why I mentioned in the beginning Runway 31, 31 could be-- I guess you would call it 13, but anyway it would go south. That one could be expanded if the road moved. That is the shortest runway at that Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: Could it go out to a length of 5000 feet, a mile?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: To the best of my knowledge, there are no houses-- There are no developments in that. If I had a road map, I could tell you, but I do not believe there are any large concentrations of homes that would create a problem in expanding that runway. The only thing that is holding up the expansion of that runway is Airport Road.
MR. McNAMARA: If it were known to have a runway of that length, it would inure greatly toward increased safety of flight operations. Would the township be in favor of the Airport's making that improvement?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I believe that if we were to educate the people who are or may question the expansion of that, if they were properly educated as to the type of operation that would be continued there -- or would be started with this expansion, I believe we could put it through.
MR. McNAMARA: Are you referring to the possible, maybe probable, introduction of executive jet aircraft, small corporate jet aircraft that would come in and out if you had a runway of that length?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I would like to see that in the township, sir. These things that you are talking about are the way it has to go in the future -- I can see that -- if we are to continue to attract the type of people into the community who would need these facilities and these services.
To do this, whoever does this will have to make a strenuous effort to educate the people in the community about the benefits this will bring and to negate some of the hysteria that happens when people want to do this. We have seen this in other townships. I know a man who was going to put a private runway in, in a private field. He was a retired airline pilot. The hysteria of the community became that the man was going to land 747s there, and no one in their right mind is going to think you are going to land a 747 on a short runway just because you are going to blacktop it.
But this is what happens sometimes in this. I assume that you gentlemen are educated enough to know that these things do not happen that way, but this is what the media picks up. The media tends to stir the community up and people get a very bad taste for this. Then it comes back to us politically, "Why are you allowing this to happen?" I behooves anyone who is doing this to make an extensive effort to publicly relate to the people what is going to happen here, and why it is going to happen.
MR. McNAMARA: I am just reviewing some notes here.
Do you have helicopter operations at your Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir. We have turbine helicopter operations there also. I do not believe that we have turbine fixed wing aircraft there, though I am not sure. They may have turboprop on small--
MR. McNAMARA: You may have turbine-powered propeller aircraft, but you don't have simply turbine-powered aircraft?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: No, to the best of my knowledge. I know, because I have flown at the balloon festival in a turbine-powered helicopter. Just off the record, or on the record, I certainly did not find that offensive in any way, shape, or form as far as noise from the engine or noise from the blade, or whatever you call that.
MR. McNAMARA: Does your Airport have lights and does it have night operations?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Oh, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have any thoughts about what your community can do to better support the Airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I think the most important thing for the community and the political entities that govern the community to do is to make sure that any criticism of the Airport, or any suggestions in operations, or any suggestions in expansion be kept on a level of professional decorum and not wind up in the hysteria mode. Not only have we seen it with airports, but we have seen it in the community with other types of things that happen in communities. Sometimes people get hysterical, mostly because they do not understand. Educating them about what you are doing, I think, would help the Airport an awful lot, and the Airport can help us.
We had a problem last summer -- so that you don't think I am not relating on both sides of this-- They based a sky-dive unit at one of these airports in the township. For some reason, they determined that they needed night jumps. The night jumps took place at 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00 at night when they were taking off with a small, noisy airplane that holds a lot of jumpers. I don't know what kind it is, but it made a lot of noise. We did have complaints. There will be no more night jumping at this particular airport.
MR. McNAMARA: How was that arranged?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Well, whoever leased the facilities for this type of an operation just did it, because when we spoke to the owners, they led us to believe that they were not aware that this was going to take place. They were told then by the manager of the facilities -- the manager of the jumping school, I guess you would call it, that every couple of years they like to take people and night qualify them for jumps. It was good for business. The owners of the airport were strongly suggested to by the committee in the township that this was not a real good thing to do. They knew it themselves. I mean, they did not have to be told by us.
MR. McNAMARA: Are the owners of the airport credible people?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, why wouldn't they be credible? Yes, they are credible.
MR. McNAMARA: You said that in a way, maybe when you said that the owners told you-- At least the owners told you that that was what the other people had said. You believed what the owners told you?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Whether they knew about it or not, they ceased to do the operation, because it did create a problem in the community. That is what I am trying to say.
MR. McNAMARA: The owners were able to speak to the community and field the complaint, and then they went and did something about it at their airport?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: That was the result of having open lines of communication and a good relationship, did you say?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Absolutely.
MR. McNAMARA: If an Airport advisory committee were to be formed where there would be representatives of the township and representatives of the Airport on the committee, would members of your municipal be willing to serve on that committee?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: They would be obligated to. We only have a three-man committee, so we try to put one member of the committee on each important committee in the community, so that at least there is an elected member of the community on a committee to facilitate things back if an ordinance needs to be done, or at least so people will know if they don't like what is happening, they can at least have a chance to vote that person off so he does not serve on the committee anymore.
MR. McNAMARA: Should the present owners decide that they wanted to sell the Airport, would the township be interested in making the purchase of the Airport with State assistance?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I believe that the township should, personally, for the reasons I have told you at this meeting. We are now in the process in the community of zoning it so that there are some green belts around some of the older communities, because the older communities usually have the houses very, very close to the street, with very small backyards, and nothing for the children to play in. There is no room for sidewalks. On the backside of these communities, in two instances, they have tried to -- were trying to put green belts around the community and allow future development to be in parcels of these green belts in concentrated homes with open spaces.
This has been a very popular idea. Whether it will actually come to pass, I do not know. Money is always a problem. There is no State aid for this.
In purchasing the Airport, that would have to probably be funded, the majority of it, through the State. I think that is the only way you are going to get it, because what you have here is-- You do not have total community participation in the Airport. I doubt if more than 10 percent of the people who live in Alexandria Township actually use the facility. So if you had 1000 people a month using the facility, 100 would be from Alexandria Township. The other 900 are from the surrounding communities. They draw from a very large area, because Sky Manor and Alexandria are-- The closest airport to the east is probably Somerset; the closest to the south, commercially, is Trenton. I don't know where you would have to go west. Orwinna is a dirt field, I believe. I don't think it is macadam. North is Easton, Allentown, Bethlehem. I don't know what is further north than New Jersey. I don't know of any airports north. Hackettstown? So Alexandria is in the center of this -- the township is in the center of all this.
It has to be done on a statewide basis, because it encompasses people from not only Hunterdon County, but it will be drawing from Pennsylvania -- which wouldn't affect the State -- but it would also be drawing from Warren County, which is further north of Hunterdon.
MR. McNAMARA: It is a benefit to New Jersey if people from Pennsylvania like to come to Alexandria Field and spend their money. We, at least I, as a Commissioner, would deem that a benefit, in any event.
What do you believe your Airport could do to provide better service to your community? Does it have a flight school there?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: You have already mentioned that it conducts an air taxi.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Does it have any kind of water retention facility there for reloading airborne fire-fighting equipment?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I don't know quite what you mean.
MR. McNAMARA: The airborne fire-fighting equipment that is used to control forest fires, the airplanes that they load up with water, take out, and drop the water on forest fires. Is there a detention basin -- or retention basin located at the Field for reloading those airborne fire-fighting aircraft?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Not to my knowledge.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: When we had the gypsy moth problem, they did most of Hunterdon County and a lot of Pennsylvania from that Field. They brought in ag cats and we did a lot of spraying from there. That was a big controversial thing in the community, but we did spray. It had nothing to do with the Airport, but whether you wanted your property sprayed or not. But we did use Alexandria Field as the base for spraying the gypsy moths, probably five, six years ago.
They brought in tankers of water. I mean, they had tankers of water there to fill the planes with water and add insecticides.
One thing you have not mentioned in Alexandria here is that to the north of Alexandria Field is a 600-acre open parcel owned by the Salvation Army. There is a good chance that this will be sold. Every couple of years we hear that someone is interested in it and the Salvation Army does not want it anymore. This will be developed also. When this is developed to the north of Alexandria, we will have another 300 homes in the community, which will not be advantageous to the Airport.
The runways-- I don't know if they could be angled to overfly the Salvation Army Camp because of the elevation. It might be uphill too much. But Runway 13 and 31, as I think about it more and more, are the only two directions that you could really expand that out to 5000 feet, if you considered doing that. Both ends of that runway, to the best of my knowledge, do not contain any amount of houses that would create a problem.
MR. McNAMARA: Has Alexandria adopted the New Jersey safety zoning ordinance -- airport zoning ordinance, according to the New Jersey Safety Zoning Act?
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: Yes. I believe so, yes. Is that the threshold--
MR. McNAMARA: Yes.
DEPUTY MAYOR PERRINE: I believe we have.
MR. McNAMARA: Those are my questions. Are there other questions for this witness? (no response)
Mr. Perrine, you have very kindly come down and have been as patient as you could be with us today to give us this very thoughtful, well-considered testimony, and I want to thank you very much.
For the record, I would like to recall Commissioner Castner to the bench. Ms. Castner happens to be one of the owners of the Alexandria Airport. I think this Commission can go high with respect to at least one of the owners. She represents a person of substantial character and high credibility.
Is Mr. Barry Clark here? (affirmative response from audience)
Mr. Clark, welcome.
B A R R Y C L A R K: Thank you, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be true, subject to the laws of perjury in the State of New Jersey?
MR. CLARK: I do, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Please have a seat.
Mr. Clark, do you have a prepared statement?
MR. CLARK: The only thing that is prepared, sir, is a draft of a resolution that will be passed by the governing body of Readington Township at the meeting Monday night. That is a resolution that focuses on the present position of the governing body with regard to the expansion of the Solberg Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you please read that resolution to us, sir?
MR. CLARK: Yes, I would be glad to. Please bear in mind that it is still in draft form.
MR. McNAMARA: We appreciate that.
MR. CLARK: Just by way of background, I must say that for the last few years, the township, along with Branchburg Township, and along with the Airport representatives, has been going through the Technical Advisory Committee Master Plan process. This is the present status, and I will do my best to read this.
WHEREAS, Solberg Airport is presntly conducting a Master Plan Study with a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation; and
WHEREAS, the Township Committee of Readington Township is not opposed to how the Airport currently exists or the type of aircraft presently in use.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Committee of Readington Township concludes the following -- these conclusions are the result of the data that has been coming out of the Technical Advisory Committee:
1) that there is a lack of data to support the conclusions drawn in Day & Zimmerman's Interim Reports Nos. 1 and 2 for the need for a longer runway; and
2) that the demographic projections in the Day & Zimmerman report have ignored the actual growth projected; and
3) that there is a lack of infrastructure to support the increase in demand anticipated to be placed upon the Airport and insufficient safety apparatus to support an expansion; and
4) that the runway length, as it presently exists, provides adequate safety for existing aircraft; and
5) that the location of a commercial airport in a totally rural residential zone is highly inappropriate.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Committee of the Township of Readington, County of Hunterdon, strongly opposes any increase in the Solberg Airport runway length;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any type of commercial expansion that would increase the use of turbine-powered aircraft is also opposed.
It goes on to say that copies will be sent to various parties throughout the State and our neighboring Township of Branchburg.
MR. McNAMARA: May we have a copy of that draft?
MR. CLARK: I have copies of it.
MR. McNAMARA: We are going to take a three-minute break here and go off the record. If you, during that time, would distribute those copies, I would appreciate it.
MR. McNAMARA: Did everyone get a copy of this? (affirmative responses)
Harry, did you get a copy?
MR. WHITE: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Clark?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir?
MR. McNAMARA: We are going to go back on the record now.
Addressing, first of all, some of the provisions in this resolution, when you say "there is a lack of infrastructure to support the increase in demand anticipated to be placed upon the Airport," what does that mean?
MR. CLARK: I did not prepare the resolution, but I believe the governing body, in general, means the width of the roads and the access are such that we are presently able to maintain the ingress and egress with no problem with the existing facility, and that it would be a burden for any larger and more commercial operation.
MR. McNAMARA: When you say "more commercial," do you mean in the nature of airline activity?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Solberg already has corporate jet operations. Is that correct?
MR. CLARK: There are some jets that come in and out of there, and we understand that there are two housed there.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. The jets that are there, that type of aircraft, are not a problem. What you are concerned about are the aircraft that would be in the nature of 737s and Boing 747s, 757s, 767s, DC-10s, that kind of thing?
MR. CLARK: In answer to your question, first of all, the jets that are there now have caused a great deal of citizen reaction. We have a hot line, and we get many complaints about noise and low approaches. Beyond that, though, yes, there is a great public sensitivity to anything larger coming in, in the future.
MR. McNAMARA: When you say "anything larger," do you mean you do not have any objection to a different make of corporate jet aircraft, just so long as it doesn't carry more passengers than the ones that are using the Airport now?
MR. CLARK: I believe that might be one of the best ways to describe the general thinking within the community.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Chairman, what type of aircraft are based there now?
MR. McNAMARA: I really don't know. I do know that there is a Citation jet that uses the field. There may be a Gulf Stream 4 that goes in and out. I'm not sure.
MR. CLARK: We get most complaints about the Citation.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. But you don't get any complaints about any other aircraft?
MR. CLARK: When we get complaints, we ask people for the wing numbers, if possible. Apparently, new regulations have enabled-- The numbers are smaller and the people cannot see them anymore, like in the old days when I used to fly. So we have never gotten anyone with a wing number and a true identification. But there are a lot of complaints.
MR. McNAMARA: All right.
Now, do your complaints follow a pattern, as we heard from one of our earlier witnesses, where you get -- I guess that was Montgomery Township-- If you would distribute your complaints over the individuals who make the complaints and the number of complaints made, would you find that a substantial number of the complaints were all coming from the same people?
MR. CLARK: Yes. The people living within the proximity of the Airport are generally the population that does complain. The intensity of the complaints generally has been following, in the last two years, the activity of the Technical Advisory Committee, which meets periodically.
MR. McNAMARA: In other words, when it is going to meet you get a lot of complaints? In between meetings they tend to taper off, but when it is known that they will meet again, more complaints come in?
MR. CLARK: There is that relationship, but also when we have complaints-- They generally come to my office, and I generally call Lorraine Solberg or Susie Nagel, whoever is at the Airport. They have no problem with calling people and explaining whatever they can explain. They have done a very good job of public relations.
MR. McNAMARA: By the way, I would like to correct myself. I just realized that I made a mistake. I think there is a Citation jet there, and then there is also, I think, a Rockwell Commander, which is a turbine-powered, propeller-driven aircraft. I said a G4. I didn't mean that. It is a Rockwell 970, or something like that.
You don't know, do you, Jack?
MR. ELLIOTT: It is a modified-- (remainder of comment indiscernible; Mr. Elliott speaking off mike)
MR. McNAMARA: Well, anyway, it is a Commander turboprop.
MR. CLARK: The only one we have been able to identify through the complaint process is the Citation, and we have only been able to do that with the correlation of time.
MR. McNAMARA: Is Mr. Peters one of the complaintants you are referring to?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: He isn't? We understood that for awhile he was the most frequent complaintant. Was he on some airport advisory committee of the township?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Peters is a local resident who has his own airstrip on his own property. He got involved when the word was that Linden was shutting down, approximately 10 years ago. The word was that jets would be coming to Solberg. That caused quite an uproar within the township, which has since died down. Now it is resurging, the same arguments are resurging.
MR. McNAMARA: Was he on the township committee at the time?
MR. CLARK: Not during the time when it was originally announced, from what I understand, but he was subsequently elected, yes, sir. He was elected on a "Keep Readington Rural" platform.
MR. McNAMARA: Was he brought up on a complaint under the local government ethics law which was adopted by the State six or seven years ago?
MR. CLARK: The township had its own ethics code by ordinance, which predated the State law. That has been totally reversed in the courts, and the whole process must begin again at the county level.
MR. McNAMARA: But was Mr. Peters not found to be in violation of that ethics law by the Readington Board of Ethics for having a conflict of interest as a committeeman making comments on the Solberg Airport?
MR. CLARK: I would like to say two things here: One, we are still in litigation on this matter, and I don't think it would be proper to really make any comments with regard to that litigation, since we are in litigation. However, I would like to say that I don't think-- If you ask my personal opinion, Mr. Peters is not representative of the populace as I am trying to express to you here today, not at all. I mean, you can take Mr. Peters out of this whole equation. What I am trying to express to you today is the general population reaction to an expansion of the Airport. There is great fear on that, and I think that is reflected in the proposed resolution.
I believe Mr. Peters has been in attendance at township committee meetings, but has not had any input in local government as an official for three years, I would say.
MR. McNAMARA: Thirty?
MR. CLARK: Three.
MR. McNAMARA: Three zero?
MR. CLARK: Three.
MR. McNAMARA: Three years?
MR. CLARK: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: I'm sorry.
For the record, I believe I am correct when I say that because Mr. Peters owned an airport that was located in proximity to the Solberg Airport, and had been told by the Federal Aviation Administration -- I guess he had been told by the State of New Jersey, the Department of Transportation, that he would have to close his airport if it ever interfered with the Solberg Airport, Mr. Peters was concerned that the increased operations at the Solberg Airport might be an instance for that sort of interference, and undertook to raise the emotions of the people of the township contrary to the Solberg Airport.
Is this all ringing true, Mr. Clark?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Chairman, if that were true, it would have been during the Linden era.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you recollect any of this?
MR. CLARK: No. I have been in this position for four years--
MR. McNAMARA: Okay, so this was before your time.
MR. CLARK: --and I can speak for the last four years that that conclusion would not be correct.
MR. McNAMARA: In any event, there was a proceeding against Mr. Peters for having a conflict of interest as a committeeman with affairs affecting the Solberg Airport. That proceeding was conducted before the Municipal Ethics Board of Readington, and Mr. Peters was found to be in violation of the ethics ordinance -- the Readington ethics ordinance. Those are my recollections of the incident.
Now, the reason I bring all of that up is, we were shown some information-- I am getting to a point that was raised earlier by Montgomery Township, where one of their witnesses came in and said that a great many of the Airport's problems stem from a failure of education and a failure of communication, and misperceptions about the nature of projected Airport activities.
We were shown some flyers that pertained to a meeting that was going to be held -- I think it was a joint meeting between Readington and Branchburg, and I believe that occurred about a month ago. Those flyers were designed-- Those flyers are in some part of our record, I can't seem to find them immediately. Does anyone have one of those flyers here?
MR. ELLIOTT: There it is.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, here it is. You are a good investigative reporter to find something in my file.
I would like to read just part of this flyer to you: "Will commercial jets ruin your property's value?" Then the next line is, "Challenge the Solberg Airport expansion to protect your quality of life, where anyone reading this will be in the flight path of everything from a commuter jet to a full-sized commercial airliner, who knows how often." In enormous print, the type 20 point, "At risk now!" Victor Borge would say (demonstrates sounds). "Potentially serious decline in property valuse. Increased air and noise pollution. Major increase in traffic jams. Increased danger from fuel storage and spillage."
It has a fact sheet: "This mile-plus expanded runway, 5600 feet, will be nearly as long as one of Newark's, which can handle 747s and DC-10s. Decreased property values mean higher taxes for all of us. Worse yet, Federal dollars will pay for 90 percent of the expansion. Proposed expansion will run from the Polasky-Harlan School Road to Readington-Old York Road. Additional impact on our community. Increased need for more police. Increased need for more fire protection. Increased need for more emergency rescue teams, with costly new specialized skills to learn. Road expansion costs and increased maintenance requirements."
It says: "Do you believe Thor Solberg? No increased noise to the surrounding community!" I will spare you the Victor Borge one. "No looking to make a profit from the expansion. Property values will not decline. Wants to expand for altruistic reasons. Expected growth only four jets in the next 20 years. Surrounding communities do not object to the expansion.
"Solberg's efforts are well underway!" Big word: "Only a unified effort will stop this expansion."
Now, our last witness came and testified that the expansion of the Alexandria Airport in Alexandria Township would probably be beneficial to his community. He was talking in terms of expanding -- in response to my questions about it, specifically my questions addressed to the 5500-foot runway-- He said, "If that were to be addressed in Alexandria Township, it probably would be good, but it would be most important to have the hearing of the matter conducted in a professional manner -- in a high professional manner with professional decorum."
Do you know, was there a meeting conducted as per the notice on this fact sheet?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir, in the Branchburg Municipal Building.
MR. McNAMARA: Were you at that meeting?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Did you hear any of the events that transpired at that meeting?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Could you report that that was conducted in a manner of high professional decorum?
MR. CLARK: By my standards of government, no, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Why not?
MR. CLARK: Well, the emotional level was a little higher than-- The emotional level was too high in order to continue on at a professional level.
MR. McNAMARA: I want you to understand, Mr. Clark, that I am not accusing you, or Readington Township, of anything. This is a real problem in the State of New Jersey in some municipalities. It seems not to be a problem in other municipalities.
What I want to learn, as part of my assignment by the Legislature, is why that is. I don't believe it is because an airport exists in a rural bedroom community, because we have seen it both ways. Can you help us to understand why that is?
MR. CLARK: There just appears to be a fear that the larger aircraft will come in with an expanded runway with noise, air pollution. People are complaining that there is diesel fuel on their swimming pools -- and danger, of course.
MR. McNAMARA: Do people believe that that Citation jet is somehow venting jet fuel, dumping fuel, as you see it?
MR. CLARK: It was speculated by two family members, at one of the many meetings we have had. We have coordinated with the Board of Health to take samples. Quite frankly, it is the County Board of Health. Now, whether they ever did take samples, the families concluded that they suspected it was jet fuel, a film on their swimming pools.
MR. McNAMARA: That fuel would have had to have come from the operation of the jet at the Solberg Airport?
MR. CLARK: One should never make those conclusions until tests are taken.
MR. ENGLE: Excuse me. One thing, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Clark, did anyone ever contact Cessna Aircraft Corporation to find out if there was any way you could dump fuel from that airplane?
MR. CLARK: No, sir. We made contact with many-- We made many contacts over the years: the Aircraft Pilots' Association -- that is, owners and pilots -- the FAA, the Solbergs.
MR. McNAMARA: At the Solberg Airport-- In know I am correct in saying that there is a major navagational facility located on that field.
MR. CLARK: You are correct.
MR. McNAMARA: I believe until the East Coast Plan went into effect, 40 percent of all the traffic departing La Guardia flew over the Solberg VOR, which would be, of course, all airline traffic. It probably still has a very high percentage of that kind of traffic flying over it.
In addition to a high percentage of the traffic that would be going into Teterboro and a certain amount, I suppose, of what goes into Newark -- although I am not sure of that -- it would seem to me that if some kind of diesel fuel or petroleum distillate were to come down on the top of a swimming pool in the Readington area, all of those aircraft, in addition to the diesel trucks that were going along on Highways 78, 22, and 287, depending on which direction the wind was blowing, would have to be equally suspect.
Now, we do not have to resolve the issue of one complaint about a swimming pool. I do not mean to address that. What I want to focus on is the fact that with all of those possible culprits -- and we don't even know that there was any petroleum distillate, or whatever the film was on the swimming pool, whether it was diesel fuel or not -- but with all of those possible culprits, why would it be the Solberg Airport that the community focused on?
MR. CLARK: I believe there is a correlation between the jets coming in low -- appearing to be low over those houses, and so in the minds of the residents--
MR. McNAMARA: So these houses were on the final approach to the Airport?
MR. CLARK: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: The runway, as it exists now, do you know its length?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir. I can verify that with the "New Jersey Airport Directory.
MR. McNAMARA: Very good, sir. Are you going to refer to--
MR. CLARK: To page 91.
MR. McNAMARA: Page 91. Thank you. This is, again, the "New Jersey Airport Directory 1995-1996," prepared and published by the New Jersey Division of Aeronautics.
MR. CLARK: There being an asphalt runway of 3735 feet in length and 50 feet in width, and there are then two turf runways at the present time as well.
MR. McNAMARA: Now, is that asphalt runway of 3735 feet-- Is that just the asphalt portion of a longer runway?
MR. CLARK: I believe that is a correct conclusion. Mr. Solberg was before the Township Committee one night, and he explained that he has not paved it all the way. However, he would like to, because it is an existing longer runway, but not all asphalt. I would assume that perhaps just the asphalt portion of that runway is 3735 feet. I would not know the entire designated length.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
The township has a resolution that concludes that the length of that runway provides adequate safety for existing aircraft. Can you tell me the basis for that?
MR. CLARK: This resolution, as proposed for the Township Committee for Monday night's approval, or consideration, was prepared by the two committee representatives who have been attending the TAC meetings -- Committeeman Wall and Committeeman Monaco.
MR. McNAMARA: Their names are, again?
MR. CLARK: James Wall, W-A-L-L, and Ronald Monaco, M-O-N-A-C-O. They have attended the meetings and they have looked at the interim report, number one. And, number two, Day & Zimmerman -- they are the consultants for Solberg Corporation -- the Township of Branchburg, and the Township of Readington have joined together -- we have Edwards & Kelsey, the Aviation Division, as our consultants--
MR. McNAMARA: The names of your consultants are, again?
MR. CLARK: Edwards & Kelsey.
MR. McNAMARA: They are aviation consultants?
MR. CLARK: Yes. They are general engineers, and also aviation consultants.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
Your experts, Mr. Wall and Mr. Monaco, they are members of the Township Committee?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir. We have a five-member Township Committee. They are two of the members.
MR. McNAMARA: These experts are the ones the Township Committee relies upon in aviation matters?
MR. CLARK: They are the most experienced in aviation matters. As far as being a professional expert, we are looking to Edwards & Kelsey for technical advice.
MR. McNAMARA: I see.
It was the conclusion of Mr. Wall and Mr. Monaco that the existing runway was sufficient, or adequate, for safety -- provides adequate safety for existing aircraft?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir. This draft before you has been developed by both of them. I would conclude that that is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: What is meant in the resolution when it says "insufficient safety apparatus to support an expansion"?
MR. CLARK: I am not exactly-- I believe that will be further explained on Monday night. I am at a disadvantage at this moment, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Statement 2 says: "That the demographic projections--" I guess the Township Committee concludes, "That the demographic projections as presented by Day & Zimmerman have ignored and showed little growth in favor of a single projection which was the most favorable to their argument." Oh, I see. That should be read "showed little growth." By showing little growth, that was in favor of a single projection. What is that projection?
MR. CLARK: That conclusion number 2 is grammatically--
MR. McNAMARA: In error?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir, and I think we are going to have to wait until Monday night to have a better clarification on that with respect--
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. CLARK: However, I do believe that they are unhappy with the demographic projections in the Day & Zimmerman report. That I can conclude.
MR. McNAMARA: What were those? Can you briefly tell us what those projections are?
MR. CLARK: No, sir, I can't.
MR. McNAMARA: A most important question: What do you think could be done-- There is obviously a problem between Solberg Airport and Readington Township. Apparently, also a problem between Solberg Airport and Branchburg Township. What do you think could be done to alleviate that problem, improve that situation, and help the community and the Airport to have an amicable coexistence where they could each benefit from the other?
MR. CLARK: Speaking to the past, I believe between the township, the governing body -- I am not talking about Mr. Peters, I am talking about the existing committee-- In general history, throughout the last decade and more, there has been an amicable relationship, a good relationship. The only strain has been referred to by you, and this concern by the public that larger, noisier, and more air-polluting machines will be flown in there. If the Solbergs are able to somehow alleviate the fears in that regard, I think that would be helpful.
I believe, though, that overall the attitude of the governing body-- I know the attitude of the governing body is certainly not an obstructionist attitude toward the Solberg Airport. As the resolution is saying, no one is saying that the Airport should pick up and leave, or not be there.
MR. McNAMARA: What would happen if the Solbergs sold their property to a developer?
MR. CLARK: That is very clear. The Township of Readington, the governing body, has, for years, long before the State Agricultural Board and others had open space planning and agricultural set-asides, has been at the forefront, I think perhaps in the very forefront throughout the whole State, certainly in Hunterdon County, as far as setting aside parklands and agricultural development rights easements, because for every house that is built, you can estimate $11,300 per student that goes to the school system, just right there.
MR. McNAMARA: How many students per house?
MR. CLARK: Well, let's assume two per house, and assume $5000 in taxes. The math works out that, as with Alexandria Township, it is a loss.
MR. McNAMARA: That alone looks like a $17,300 loss.
MR. CLARK: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: And that is just the schools.
MR. CLARK: That is just the schools.
MR. McNAMARA: Now you have to add on to that road maintenance, sewer maintenance--
MR. CLARK: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: --police protection, fire protection.
MR. CLARK: Correct.
MR. McNAMARA: What would the total loss be?
MR. CLARK: Well over, I would say, $20,000 per house, easily. So what the township governing body has done, through master planning and encouraging the open space, applying for Green Acres every year-- In fact, we have had closure on many properties, many farms, through Green Acres. In the four years that I have been involved, there have been four of them, and we are now going into the fifth one. We closed on the Opazinski farm, the Momone farm, the Coleszinski farm in just the last three years.
So we are very much aware of what development means for the community. Residential development is a loss.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the price per acre, the value of land, in Readington Township?
MR. CLARK: The Green Acres parcels we have been buying are $8000, $9000 per acre. In 1989, the same land would have been valued at $15,000. But I would say farmland right now is going anywhere -- marginal land -- from $6000, $7000. The average is between $8000 and $9000.
MR. McNAMARA: And a residential lot?
MR. CLARK: Well, it would be per acre. A residential lot would be more valuable after a subdivision, of course.
MR. McNAMARA: What would that be?
MR. CLARK: I don't know the answer to that. If we were left with the acreage that Solberg covers right now, it would be very expensive to the community.
MR. McNAMARA: How many acres does it cover?
MR. CLARK: I am not exactly sure.
MR. McNAMARA: If I suggested to you that it is in the vicinity of 700 acres, would you think that had a ring of truth to it?
MR. CLARK: Indeed, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: I believe it is. I believe it is between 670 and 700 acres.
If you were to buy 700 acres at $10,000 an acre, you would be looking at something in the nature of $7 million. Is that it -- or $70 million? Let me see here. That would have to be $7 million, I'm sure. Yes, $7 million.
Could the township afford to do that?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir. Two years ago, we had a referendum on putting two cents in a tax rate for open space. Each year, we are collecting $380,000 for that purpose. We can purchase land directly, or we can use that as down payment or partial payment on a bond ordinance.
Our bonding ability is, of course, as every other municipality, 3.5 percent of equalized value -- 3.5 percent of the assessed value. We are a little more than one-half of 1 percent, so we have a lot of bonding ability. So, financially, we could do it. Whether or not the governing body would select that option over some of the other programs that are going on, would be a decision for them.
MR. McNAMARA: What would be some of the other programs?
MR. CLARK: Well, every year we are involved in Green Acres, so we are always buying, or attempting to buy another one. We just bought 48 acres of land off of Route 202 for recreational purposes. That was a quarter of a million dollars. We bought that outright. That is the kind of program we have.
MR. McNAMARA: Now, it has been suggested that the value of land in the area of the Solberg Airport is not $10,000, but more in the nature of $50,000.
MR. CLARK: Per building lot.
MR. McNAMARA: No, per acre.
MR. CLARK: Per acre. Okay.
MR. McNAMARA: That, of course, would raise the price of the purchase of Solberg Airport to somewhere around $35 million. Would the township be able to accommodate that purchase?
MR. CLARK: The governing body would have to-- It is their decision. There are so many other programs going on that that would severely limit-- I am also Chief Financial Officer, and that would severely limit all these other projects. That would definitely put a drain on the municipality.
MR. McNAMARA: The bonding expense of that would be in the nature of something over $1 million a year?
MR. CLARK: Yes, I would say so.
MR. McNAMARA: What is the total budget of Readington?
MR. CLARK: Four million, seven hundred thousand.
MR. McNAMARA: So it would increase the total just having-- Just buying out the Solberg Airport might increase your budget by 20 percent?
MR. CLARK: Yes. The shock on the budget would be horrendous.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you think that number, 50 million -- sorry, I mean 50,000 acres-- Is that within the realm of what you would be discussing if you were discussing purchase with the Solbergs?
MR. CLARK: Well, if it were open land, agricultural, those figures I gave you before would be right on the mark.
MR. McNAMARA: What you would be willing to pay.
MR. CLARK: Indeed, we had a commercial operation there, which definitely changes the value.
MR. McNAMARA: The problems of Readington and the problems of the Solberg Airport, it would seem to me, lend themselves to a unique, mutually beneficial solution. Why wouldn't you allow the runway to be expanded, which would reduce noise, from what we have been told, and allow light industrial development on the Airport, which would bring ratables into your township, and not bring school children into the township?
What you would do, of course, if you expanded -- if you allowed the Airport to extend its runways, you would, presumably, become a more attractive location for industries that wanted to be located on an airport.
We had an expert testifying yesterday who indicated that those types of industry include: distribution industries that move parts out to factories that would have to shut down production lines without having parts; check-processing industries, which are interested in the rapid flight, or transmission of checks; high-tech industry, any kind of high-tech industries, such as the computer industry; some consulting industries, where they are moving people around to different locations for consulting purposes.
Would those industries be objectable if they were located in the area of your Airport?
MR. CLARK: All I can say to that, sir, is that that vision, I do not believe, is the one that is being projected at the present time.
MR. McNAMARA: That vision is not the one that is being projected at the present time?
MR. CLARK: Right.
MR. McNAMARA: I don't follow that answer.
MR. CLARK: I think that is a skillful way to market. I don't think that-- I do not believe that is the image that is being projected.
MR. McNAMARA: Please understand, I am not marketing anything. I am just asking. That seems to be a logical direction to go with a community that is losing $20,000 per residential unit and is confronted with having to decide between increasing their budget by 20 percent to purchase the Solberg Airport -- if it ever went out of business -- or having an influx of something in the nature of 150 to 200 additional residential units. I mean, it is something that would have to be done to forestall that.
It seems to me the natural way to forestall it would be to allow the Airport to become a viable economic entity that would not want to sell and, at the same time, encourage it to have ratables located on it that would be interested in paying the taxes that would pay off the costs of the schooling.
I am not selling anything. I am just asking that question. It strikes me that the logic of the question is compelling, but I could be wrong, and I want to know why.
MR. CLARK: All I can say is, I do not believe the process of reviewing things with regard to the Technical Advisory Committee has come to that juncture.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you see any-- Is there anything wrong with the logic of that thinking? You are the Chief Financial Officer of the township. Have I made any mistakes? MR. CLARK: Mr. Chairman, all I know is that our position at the present time is expressed in that resolution.
MR. McNAMARA: I know that, too. You have given us this resolution, but that has nothing to do with the question.
MR. CLARK: We do not envision Solberg Airport being sold to developers. We have not contemplated that.
MR. McNAMARA: Because you have not contemplated it, you are telling me that Readington has never contemplated the possibility that Solberg Airport might be sold to developers? The township government has never considered that?
MR. CLARK: Years ago, it was speculated that the governing body was giving it consideration, but I have never been able to find where that was true.
MR. McNAMARA: The fact that they have not considered it--
MR. CLARK: Certainly not in recent times.
MR. McNAMARA: --is not relevant to my question. My only question to you is: Am I wrong in thinking that if you had industrial ratables come into Readington that would tend to reduce the amount of the losses you are suffering with respect to your residential units -- that would help with that $20,000 a year loss?
Let's take it one step at a time. Is that correct? Am I correct in thinking that would happen?
MR. CLARK: There would be a loss, but to build houses on the property would be a loss.
MR. McNAMARA: No, no, I'm saying-- Forget the houses. If you located industry on the property -- offices, a warehouse, hangers--
MR. CLARK: I think that is certainly worthy of study.
MR. McNAMARA: Well, tell me, do these things have high value when it comes to taxation? Do they pay taxes?
MR. CLARK: They pay taxes.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. Do the taxes-- Do they have children who go to the schools?
MR. CLARK: They do not.
MR. McNAMARA: Do they require-- If you were locating industrial sites on, say, seven-acre parcels, would it require the same amount of road as locating residential lots on three-acre parcels?
MR. CLARK: Our road network would have to be expanded, or improved.
MR. McNAMARA: Does it make sense to say that you would have less road to maintain? Suppose you did not have to build any road? Suppose you located it just around the periphery of the 700 acres. You certainly would come out ahead on maintaining roads and sewers, right?
MR. CLARK: Well, the off-site roadways would have to be improved for sure. We have a very difficult time during our balloon festival every year. As far as sewers are concerned, we are serviced by two sewer plants. One of them has no more capacity for us. I believe that is where we flow to. So that would be a problem. They would definitely need sewerage.
That is why it is worthy of study. I mean, your thesis is a good one. It has to be proven or disproven.
MR. McNAMARA: I understand that. In fact, that is what I wanted to-- I am not suggesting, and it is not my position here to suggest a solution to these problems. It is only my duty to investigate what possible solutions might be. Then to find out whether these are acceptable or not is something that would be determined between the specific parties.
What roads are near Solberg Airport? What roads service it?
MR. CLARK: We have Lightfield Road. We have Readington Road. We have Polasky. There is a network of roads that actually--
MR. McNAMARA: Is Readington Road a county highway?
MR. CLARK: Yes, that is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: Is Polasky Road a county highway?
MR. CLARK: That is our road.
MR. McNAMARA: That is a township road. But anyway, there is a county highway that goes past the Airport?
MR. CLARK: On the southern end, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: The Airport extends what, about a mile along that road frontage?
MR. CLARK: It tees off of there, but the road network off that road is, you know, 25 foot, at the most, widths of old roads with not a very good base. They can't take heavy traffic, over four tons. Substantial improvement--
MR. McNAMARA: Has your township done any studies of Morristown Airport or the Mercer County Airport?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Or studies of any other airports that have runways that are 5500 feet in length, that are not Newark Airport?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: What does your township believe the population of transport aircraft would be at Solberg Airport if there were a 5500-foot runway?
MR. CLARK: We have no conclusion on that, unless it is in one of those interim reports. That data is not relative.
MR. McNAMARA: By transport aircraft I mean airline type aircraft, 737s and larger.
MR. CLARK: I don't know that anyone has any data on that.
MR. McNAMARA: But is that not what the township is afraid of?
MR. CLARK: That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: And the continued use of the Airport by aircraft such as the corporate jets is not a concern to the township? Is that it?
MR. CLARK: The aircraft that can presently land and take off on the existing runway, as far as type, is not a concern. It is that there have been a lot of complaints about the low approaches and the noise. That is a concern.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the township realize that if the runway were made longer that the aircraft would not have to make low approaches, that they could have a-- Obviously, at some point, the aircraft has to come to the ground. If the runway-- What do we have now, 3735 feet of asphalt. If the runway were made-- If the runway had 2000 feet added to it, the aircraft would be able to come in higher and land further down the runway.
MR. CLARK: I believe Mr. Solberg has explained that.
MR. McNAMARA: Did that logic fail to convince anybody in Readington?
MR. CLARK: Certainly at the meetings he has been at the logic has not yet been grasped by the general populace.
MR. McNAMARA: How about the township committee?
MR. CLARK: The only public expression so far will be the resolution of Monday.
MR. McNAMARA: I am going to interrupt my own questioning to see if I have any questions from my fellow Commissioners.
Go ahead, Mr. Elliott.
MR. ELLIOTT: Mr. Clark, two factors that contributed most significantly to the fears that aroused the hysteria at the Branchburg meeting were: One, that the runway, if it were extended to 5600 feet, would attract DC-10s and 747s. There were signs all over the place, "Stop the DC-10s." The second factor was that it would destroy property values.
Does the Township Committee feel that if the runway was lengthened to 5600 feet it would attract DC-10s and 747s?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Elliott, I think the governing body, as expressed in this resolution, wants to attract no more higher, noisier, and larger airplanes, whether it is a DC-10 or what.
MR. ELLIOTT: Well, what I am aiming at is, whether the Township Committee feels it is a realistic possibility that DC-10s or-- The signs were there and people were terribly arounsed by them, and believed that DC-10s were going to be coming in there.
MR. CLARK: I don't know that any member of the Township Committee believes or does not believe that DC-10s are possible or not possible to land on an expanded runway.
MR. ELLIOTT: I have another question. Let's say it was possible for a DC-10 to land there.
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir?
MR. ELLIOTT: My next question would be: Why would it land there?
MR. CLARK: I don't know. I am not an aviation expert.
MR. ELLIOTT: The fear was aroused to such a degree that all the newspapers carried stories about the hysteria. That was one of the leading factors contributing to that hysteria.
Now, a DC-10 or a 747 can take hundreds of people. There would have to be a reason to land there. I can't understand what the residents of the township, or anyone, would think the reason would be for the aircraft to land there. Do they think that hundreds of people would be waiting at Solberg Airport to get on a DC-10?
MR. CLARK: I don't know, sir. I don't know.
MR. ELLIOTT: All right.
The other question that was raised was that it would destroy property values. We have heard quite a bit of testimony here on property values in the vicinity of airports. Now, does the Township Committee have any facts to support the contention that lengthening the runway would have a very deliterious effect on property values in the area?
MR. CLARK: To the best of my knowledge, I do not recall the Township Committee members addressing property values, vis-a-vis an expanded Airport.
MR. ELLIOTT: But we have heard testimony here from real estate experts that an airport had virtually no effect on the value of property. Have you seen any statistics or figures to contradict that?
MR. CLARK: To the best of my knowledge, none has been presented. I would be interested in that myself.
MR. ELLIOTT: Then there is nothing to support the two elements that contributed most greatly to the lack of decorum at the Branchburg meeting? There is nothing to support the claims that aroused the residents at that time?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Elliott, I must say very clearly, being the one that gets the complaints on the Airport, over the last four years, the fear of an expanded airport has been rather consistent -- at least for the last four years. While the bulletins may have brought more people out, I would suspect that what was expressed as fear at the meeting was held by people long before that -- long before those bulletins.
MR. ELLIOTT: I am very much aware of the fear. There is no question in my mind that it is very real. My concern is whether there is any real and legitimate basis for that fear, or whether a small contingent of people who are preparing these leaflets -- which I do not think have any basis in fact -- is arousing these fears without any legitimate basis. I don't know whether you can address that or not.
MR. CLARK: No. I must observe, though, that, you know, in the democratic process, people-- We have a great American tradition of pamphleteering that goes back over 200 years. I don't know who prepared these leaflets or put the signs up. I think if you concluded that you might have a suspect you are probably wrong. I think it is the general populace.
MR. ELLIOTT: The general populace?
MR. CLARK: Yes. There are enough people concerned, many people, and there is enough energy there to put the signs up and get the leaflets out.
MR. ELLIOTT: Where they actually believed that DC-10s would come into Solberg if the runway were stretched to 5600 feet?
MR. CLARK: I cannot make any conclusions for people whose names are not known.
MR. ELLIOTT: Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: May I interrupt with a question right on this point, Jack?
MR. ELLIOTT: Yes, sure.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you believe there would be the same base of people concerned about corporate jets coming in as DC-10s and airline transport aircraft?
MR. CLARK: Well, the answer to that, Mr. Chairman, is that it is perceived that there are at least two corporate jets housed at the Airport -- stationed at the Airport, whatever.
MR. McNAMARA: And you received complaints about them?
MR. CLARK: We received complaints, but the complaints were-- They were more of observation. Every time I have gotten a complaint, I have called the Airport and either Suzanne Nagle or Lorraine Solberg have contacted these people. We rarely get another complaint. They seem satisfied.
MR. McNAMARA: So, actually, there is a difference between the population -- I am speaking in statistical terms -- that would complain, or actually does complain about the use of the Airport by corporate jets-- That population is totally distinct from the population that has been aroused about the possible use of the Airport by airline transports?
MR. CLARK: I would suspect that your conclusion might well be correct.
MR. McNAMARA: Now, you have to be responsive to my question. My question is: There are a few people-- Are there not just a few people who complain about what is going on now with the corporate jets?
MR. CLARK: That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: How many people attended this joint meeting?
MR. CLARK: Hundreds.
MR. McNAMARA: Hundreds? The joint meeting was excited by this pamphlet that suggested 747s and DC-10s. Is that correct?
MR. CLARK: Most definitely that had an impact, as it did 10 years ago.
MR. McNAMARA: So if the people in Readington were confronted with corporate jets, a 5600-foot runway that would accommodate only the type of aircraft that are corporate jets, one could presume that you would have a similar level of complaints that you are having now and you wouldn't have hundreds of people who would be opposed to that. Is that correct?
MR. CLARK: I do not believe we are thinking--
MR. McNAMARA: No, answer that question, please. This is a yes or no question. Would you like me to repeat it?
MR. CLARK: No, sir. I heard you clearly.
I think a lot more information is really needed.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Clark, it was a yes or no question.
MR. CLARK: There is more information that is needed before anyone can make that conclusion. See, one of the problems here is that when we have asked the Airport owners for more data as to who is flying in and out at what hours and can we not pinpoint who they are, because you cannot read the wing numbers, the response from the Airport operation has been that they don't know who flies in or flies out.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Clark, let me ask this question: Do you believe there would be more people who would complain about a DC-10 than a corporate jet?
MR. CLARK: Most definitely, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: You received, as you have already testified, a very limited number of complaints about the current operations of corporate jets at the Airport.
MR. CLARK: Relatively speaking, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: And you believe that that number would increase-- You know that that number would increase to several hundred if there was a suggestion of DC-10s or 747s coming into Solberg Airport?
MR. CLARK: In my opinion, it would be beyond several hundred. It would be in the thousands.
MR. McNAMARA: I would have no doubt about that.
Now, all of that being established, let's just posture for the sake of argument, whether it is true or not -- I believe it is true -- that a longer runway would cause the noise levels to decrease at the periphery of the Airport of both corporate jets and all other aircraft. If operations at the Airport were going to be limited to just corporate jets and smaller aircraft, why would anyone be opposed to that in excess of those-- It should be even less than those who complain now, shouldn't it? There would be less noise. It should be less than those that are made now. Is that correct?
MR. CLARK: I believe that those observations have been discussed at the Technical Advisory Committee.
MR. McNAMARA: I did not ask you if they were discussed. I want to know if I am making a mistake. Do you see a mistake in what I have said?
MR. CLARK: I am also saying that the conclusion of all that is expressed in this resolution. It is apparent that--
MR. McNAMARA: I am not asking a question about this resolution. I am only asking you if the type of aircraft were continued as is and the noise level was reduced, wouldn't that be something that would be beneficial to the township and the neighbors of the Airport?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Chairman, we in Readington do not believe that any expansion of that runway is beneficial to the township.
MR. McNAMARA: I am not asking that. I did not ask that, Mr. Clark. Let me repeat my question: If the type of aircraft at the Airport were kept as corporate jets and the noise levels were reduced, would that be beneficial to the township and the neighbors of the Airport?
MR. CLARK: Actually, that is the argument that Mr. Solberg should be making.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Clark, yes or no?
MR. CLARK: I am not qualified to answer that question, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: You don't know whether the reduced noise levels, maintaining the same aircraft as are using the Airport now, same type of aircraft, would be beneficial to the township?
MR. CLARK: I am not qualified to answer that question.
MR. McNAMARA: You don't know whether that would be beneficial to the neighbors of the Airport?
MR. CLARK: I am not qualified to answer a question with regard to those technical matters.
MR. McNAMARA: That is not a technical matter. That is simply a matter about whether you, as a representative of your township, believe that reduced noise levels at the Airport would be appreciated by the neighbors of the Airport and the members of your township.
MR. CLARK: Reduced noise would definitely be appreciated.
MR. McNAMARA: And if continued use of the Airport by the same type of corporate jets that are using it now would cause any increased objections?
MR. CLARK: What has happened now is that the Solbergs have tried to adjust flight patterns to address that. Since they have done that, there have been minimal complaints.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Clark, let me ask you: Do you feel you are being completely responsive with this Commission -- with the questioning today?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Are you under any constraint not to be fully responsive?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Has your mayor or any of your committeemen instructed you not to make certain representations or answers to questions?
MR. CLARK: No, that is not-- They did their very best to express their feelings, which I think will be unanimous on Monday with this resolution.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have anyone in your township who is qualified to answer questions about whether people in your township would appreciate having reduced noise levels?
MR. CLARK: Any member of the governing body would be willing to respond to that.
MR. McNAMARA: Should we ask them to come in to continue this testimony?
MR. CLARK: Sir, that is your decision.
MR. McNAMARA: Would that be recommended by you?
MR. CLARK: The only reason Mr. Monaco and/or Mr. Wall are not here is because of their pressing business schedules for this date. Initially, they were very willing to be here.
I am very sorry that I am a poor stand-in for those two experts, sir, but I have done my best.
MR. McNAMARA: We appreciate what you have done. I personally feel that you are not communicating with me, that you are trying to give a politically correct answer. By politically correct, I mean politically correct within the context of the government of Readington Township. That kind of discourse will lead to nothing. We are trying to find out how we can make a relationship between a municipality and an airport better, and the municipality comes in to us and won't speak to us freely. That cannot help.
MS. CASTNER: Take a deep breath there, Barry.
MR. CLARK: Hello, Ms. Castner.
MS. CASTNER: You, I know, were sitting behind me when Committeeman Klein was addressing Alexandria Township. I was sitting back there because I happen to be one of the owners of that Airport. We have been lucky enough to enjoy a long history of a good relationship, because my father has been sitting in your position, or my brother, or myself, or someone else.
I would like to ask a couple of basic information questions. You said there are five committeemen?
MR. CLARK: Yes.
MS. CASTNER: Could you give me the names, the sex, the background of each and tell me how long they have been on the committee.
MR. CLARK: The Mayor is Stephanie Stevens, who is the county historian. She is a female. Did you ask the age, too?
MS. CASTNER: How long has she been on the committee?
MR. CLARK: Oh, because I can't respond to that age.
She has been on -- roughly since Mr. Peters left. I think she finished an unexpired term, so she has a good three years.
MS. CASTNER: So she has been on for six years?
MR. CLARK: Three.
MS. CASTNER: She has been three years on the committee.
MR. CLARK: But she has been the local historian and the county historian.
MS. CASTNER: Okay. So one committee member has been there for three years.
MR. CLARK: Yes.
MS. CASTNER: Okay. The next?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Wall is new, he is newly elected, so he has been there since January 1.
MS. CASTNER: So he has only been in this decision-making thing for three months.
MR. CLARK: Yes, but I believe he has been a school board member, so he is used to governmental activities.
Mr. Monaco has been on for over a decade.
MS. CASTNER: For 10 years.
MR. CLARK: Ten years plus.
Mrs. Martin has been mayor of the town many times. She served us for well over a decade.
MS. CASTNER: Okay. That's four.
MR. CLARK: And Mr. Frazier is coming up for-- He is going to run again at the end of this year, so he will be finishing his third year this year.
MS. CASTNER: Okay. You are not one of the committeemen?
MR. CLARK: No. I am the Administrator.
MS. CASTNER: Lamb to the slaughter, they sent here. A personal opinion.
MR. CLARK: Well, I watched yours.
MS. CASTNER: All right. So there are two people who have been on the committee for the time period you kept referring to as 10 years back when this happened before. You kept saying something--
MR. CLARK: Yes, the reaction to the Linden--
MS. CASTNER: I vaguely remember that. Okay.
MR. CLARK: But it is still--
MR. ENGLE: You are not old enough to remember that.
MS. CASTNER: What steps -- and this is from the standpoint of being a servant to the community -- have you seen those people -- the people you have just described -- take to look at both sides of this issue?
MR. CLARK: They have had the Solbergs come to many of the public meetings.
MS. CASTNER: Are we talking, though, about the public meetings we have heard horror stories about, where no one could even get up and say a positive thing?
MR. CLARK: No. Let me just explain that the Technical Advisory Committee was established in 1994. There were four or five meetings between July of 1994 and December. One was held in July. Everyone went and got their consultants. One meeting was held, and nothing happened thereafter. MS. CASTNER: Why do you think at these meetings, then, that you are getting intelligent, logical, basically, I hope, kinds of people sitting down at a table looking at both sides of the issue? When Thor Solberg tells you and has a consultant that can prove that the runway of 5500 feet will not take a 747 or a 727, or anything like that, it is not the length so much as the density and the structure of the runway won't take that--
Why also will they not take it as a scientific fact, when it is a scientific fact, that if the threshold is moved further out from the aircraft it can come further across the runway, and now it is landing over the runway, and that low approach you mentioned five or six times is not an option any longer? The same with taking off. It is not an option any longer.
I don't understand -- which I know is what our Chairman is trying to get at-- I am having a hard time -- and I am trying to put myself in your position -- understanding why that logic, which is based upon scientific fact from the aviation industry, is not being accepted. He is not lying. He is telling you a fact.
Now, if you choose to say that you don't care about that fact, you just don't want the runway longer, or the Solbergs to make any improvements to their Airport, I can understand that, because it is your prerogative to say that. But what I am having a really hard time with here -- and I can see the frustration on Mr. McNamara's face -- is that you won't admit that.
So I am asking a straightforward question about how have you arrived at this? How? What steps--
MR. McNAMARA: For the record, Commissioner Castner--
MS. CASTNER: I'm sorry, I am referring to the resolution.
MR. McNAMARA: Yes.
MR. CLARK: I believe this is a result of one or both of these committeepeople attending the Technical Advisory Committee's meetings since July of 1994.
MS. CASTNER: Okay. So, then, what I hear you saying is, regardless of what information, scientific or otherwise, or if God came down and told you, Readington Township wants absolutely nothing to happen at Solberg Airport different than it is. No matter what we did, no matter what they said, no matter what happened, it ain't going to change.
MR. CLARK: I believe the resolution speaks for itself.
MS. CASTNER: Yes, I think it does.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Chairman?
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Engle.
Just a second. Let's come up this way.
MR. LAWRENCE: Thank you.
Mr. Clark, the question I have for you is: You indicated that there are five members of this Technical Advisory Committee. Is that it?
MR. CLARK: No, sir. There are five members of the governing body. The Technical Advisory Committee is constituted-- Basically, we do not operate the Technical Advisory Committee. It is the Airport owner working in conjunction with the State of New Jersey -- the Bureau of Aviation, is it? They hold the meetings. I believe each town has representatives who appear there. There is no public input, although public members can attend. The first public feedback was at the Branchburg Township Hall meeting.
MR. LAWRENCE: What I am beginning to understand here is that there is a communication and education type problem, especially with the people in the township. I am wondering-- I don't know if you are familiar with some of the committees that are formed at other airports, like Teterboro Airport, where you have both members of the community and members of the township involved in conjunction on a board.
MR. CLARK: I am familiar with the Teterboro. I have talked to the officials out at Teterboro and made sure the governing body was aware of that. I also talked to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. They sent us a video. It was a very good one about noise.
MR. LAWRENCE: Is that something that your township is considering involving itself in, in the future, as a way to resolve this issue?
MR. CLARK: I would have to see the outcome of Monday night, sir, see what the reaction to this resolution is.
MR. LAWRENCE: Thank you.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. Engle.
MR. ENGLE: Mr. Clark, just so you know I am political, I am the Airport Manager at Teterboro. When I tell you this -- and I am sure my colleague on the right here will agree with me -- I don't want any more jets at Solberg Airport. I want them all to come to me. I am very selfish that way -- and he will agree with me on that.
You mentioned the two members who are members of the Technical Advisory Committee. In addition to that, did the consultants, did the Solbergs set up a community advisory committee?
MR. CLARK: To the best of my knowledge, no, they didn't, sir.
MR. ENGLE: As part of the master planning process. No, they didn't. Okay.
MR. CLARK: I don't think so.
MR. ENGLE: The two members that the Township of Readington has on that committee--
MR. CLARK: That's one member, but there are two assigned in case one can't go. So we have one representative, but two people can fill it.
MR. ENGLE: Two people attend the meetings so that--
MR. CLARK: Mr. Monaco is often called to business in England and many times is not in the country. So there is always a backup.
MR. ENGLE: Did either of these two gentlemen, or both of them, have any background in aviation?
MR. CLARK: Mr. Monaco was an aviation engineer, and I believe Mr. Wall is a pilot.
MR. ENGLE: So they both have some aviation background?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Is that it?
MR. ENGLE: That's it.
MR. CLARK: Mr. Monaco had design experience with some of the NASA projects.
MR. McNAMARA: I have just a few additional questions. You are not the first witness who has come before us representing a township that has evidenced that his township, or her township, has a fear of its resident airport extending the runway. Some townships are very much in favor of that, because they believe it might be good for the business in the township. Others have a fear of it. Sometimes it is possible, we believe, that that fear is not based on good reason.
We want to find out what the townships' concerns are about a longer runway. The reason we are concerned about it is that we believe that it probably is good for business in the township, and we believe strongly that it is one of the key factors inured to safer operation of aircraft. In that regard, we are talking about, of course, protecting people from serious injury and possible fatalities.
That is why we have gotten into these questions. We will let it subside for the time being.
Let me ask you: This is clearly a hot issue in Readington. Am I correct?
MR. CLARK: That is correct, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Are you a paid employee of Readington?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: If you came to this Commission and made an admission against the interests of Readington with respect to lengthening the runway, would you perceive that that would be ill received by your employer?
MR. CLARK: I believe my job is to always abide by the policy of the governing body, if it is legally correct. This resolution represents what I believe to be the policy.
MR. McNAMARA: Why is it that your Mayor didn't come?
MR. CLARK: I believe it is because the township committee has asked Mr. Wall and Mr. Monaco to be the representatives. Both of them wanted to be here today. When they could not come, I was asked by them to appear. So I do not have an answer to your question.
MR. McNAMARA: Let me say this to you, and I hope you will convey it back to your employers: We, as this Commission, do not need to have those people on your committee who are aviation experts. What we need to have are people who are experts just in the business of municipal government, who are, in fact, the municipal government. We want to talk about the problems of the public perception and really more about governmental problems and the problems of the people of the community, and how those problems -- what is the nature of those problems, and what can be done to work those problems out with the airport.
I would like you to take that back. We would prefer to have the Mayor come. We have had, and can always get aviation experts. I am sure that your men-- I am not sure of it, but it is possible that your men are highly qualified. But we can bring in people from Cal Tech, MIT, NASA. We have had the FAA and the DOT in here. We can get all the aviation experts we need. However, what we need are people who can teach us, edify us with respect to resolving these municipal relationship problems, to find out what the real problems are. The real problem in Readington is not a 5500-foot runway. The real problem is the perception of what a 5500-foot runway means, or the actual fact of what a 5500-foot runway means.
To my mind, today, I am not satisfied that we have determined either one of those things. I think what we ought to do is have Readington contact you, Mr. Engle, to set up a date to have the Mayor come in and talk about this -- just this issue. We do not need to know about aviation. We need to know about these public relation problems, if they are real or if they are just perceived.
Now, let me ask you just a few-- Did you want to make some comment in response to what I just said?
MR. CLARK: No, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. I just kind of saw you winding up there, and I thought--
MR. CLARK: I am not winding up. If you had a list of questions you were asking the other gentlemen-- I notice you were asking about the--
MR. McNAMARA: No, I am just going to ask you five more questions, five quick ones.
What economic contribution, in terms of jobs or dollars brought into the community, does Solberg make? Do they make a significant economic contribution?
MR. CLARK: It has not been-- Except for taxes, I don't know that we have that information. It is a relatively small operation. It is not a large employer. The largest thing that happens there is the balloon festival, which is rather successful. But the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning leases the land from the Solberg family.
MR. McNAMARA: Does that bring dollars into the community?
MR. CLARK: No.
MR. McNAMARA: That does not increase business in the community at all?
MR. CLARK: No.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the operation of the Solberg Airport bring dollars into the community?
MR. CLARK: The balloon festival doesn't. The only--
MR. McNAMARA: Other than the balloon festival.
MR. CLARK: The only revenue coming in is when the off-duty police officers are hired and they pay. That helps their payroll.
MR. McNAMARA: I don't mean to the municipal government. I mean to the businesses in the community.
MR. CLARK: Our roads are clogged. No one is coming and buying on the way in at the local stores.
MR. McNAMARA: You're talking about the balloon festival.
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. Forget the balloon festival. That is what, three days a year? (no response) Lets talk about the 362 days of the year that are not balloon festival days.
MR. CLARK: Yes. As far as the other--
MR. McNAMARA: Does the Solberg Airport have a significant economic impact?
MR. CLARK: That is a very good question. I don't have any figures on that.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. CLARK: But we do have Merck. The international corporation of Merck is located in Readington. I believe -- as the other gentleman from Alexandria has explained -- there are business executives, obviously, who avail themselves of the Solberg Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: Does Merck operate any aircraft in and out of Solberg Airport?
MR. CLARK: I am not sure.
MR. McNAMARA: Would that be a good thing if it did?
MR. CLARK: When we asked the Solbergs who comes in and who goes out, they said they didn't have any log-in sheet. They do not know who comes or goes. So we do not have--
I think if you want to come to a conclusion about the economic impact, you have to have the cooperation of both the Solbergs and us studying it together.
MR. McNAMARA: You say you don't know if Merck has aircraft that come in and go out of there, but would it be a good thing if they did?
MR. CLARK: Well, yes. Whatever we can do to help Merck is--
MR. McNAMARA: What is good for General Bull Moose is good for the U.S.A.?
MR. CLARK: That is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. CLARK: And on the local level, the same conclusion.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the Airport make any asthetic contribution to the community in the nature of open space, woodlands, wetlands, wildlife habitat?
MR. CLARK: Yes. Just the total acreage. For the most part, it is not paved over and there are no buildings on it. So there is a lot of wildlife. It is on high ground, so there are no wetlands to speak of. There are low lines, swampy wetlands.
MR. McNAMARA: Does the Airport make a substantial tax contribution to the revenues of the community?
MR. CLARK: Everything is relative. Compared to Merck, no. I would say that there is certainly a taxpayer--
MR. McNAMARA: How much do they pay in taxes?
MR. CLARK: I don't recall. That definitely would be a contribution.
MR. McNAMARA: Gross revenues are $4 million, we said?
MR. CLARK: Our budget is-- Yes, that is correct.
MR. McNAMARA: Could it be suggested that they pay even 1% of that?
MR. CLARK: We are going to go to a bond issue. I looked at the largest 20-- I don't think they were on the largest 20 taxpayers list. We just did that.
MR. McNAMARA: For the most part, they are probably farmland assessed, are they?
MR. CLARK: I would assume so.
MR. McNAMARA: So their tax revenues would be very small.
MR. CLARK: Relatively speaking, per acre, yes.
MR. McNAMARA: Okay. Has your community adopted the zoning ordinance in accord with the New Jersey Safety Zoning Act?
MR. CLARK: We joined in a lawsuit on that the last several years, and are prepared now to do so. We are finishing up the surveying of the zone, and the ordinance will be introduced this spring.
MR. McNAMARA: What could the Solberg Airport do to provide a better service to Readington?
MR. CLARK: I think I mentioned before that there is a good relationship -- I think. That relationship, in particular, comes when there are complaints and how responsive they are. I think that is the key, to keep doing that.
MR. McNAMARA: Do they do that now?
MR. CLARK: Yes, sir. They are sensitive, they are responsive. I call up and they are very much interested in knowing who, where, what, and how. On the other hand, we never get these airplanes identified. You know, we have a time and date, but they don't seem to know who is flying in or who is flying out. That doesn't help the relationship.
MR. McNAMARA: What they could do is be able to identify aircraft when the township receives complaints. Do the complaints go directly to the Airport?
MR. CLARK: No. Some people call the Airport. We have a hot line and a regular extension on our voice mail, so 24 hours a day we can get calls, and do get calls.
MR. McNAMARA: So any time the Airport is attended, identification of an aircraft is possible?
MR. CLARK: Having flown out of Somerset Airport a long time ago, I always thought Mr. Walker knew who was coming and who was going. When you are talking about a Citation jet, you should have an idea whether it is flying in and out of your place. That has been my thought.
MR. McNAMARA: It would seem, then, if it were one based there, or one of the two based there, or whatever it is, it could not be difficult to determine that. Have the Solbergs suggested that they can't?
MR. CLARK: Yes. In fact, the governing body has suggested that they have a log-in, a sign-in guest book kind of a thing. They said, "That's impossible to do."
MR. McNAMARA: Well, when it is not attended, you know, who knows who will sign in?
MR. CLARK: Well, that's true, but most-- Some of these complaints have happened at night, but mostly it is during business hours. We did have some confusion, by the way, at one time, that we did handsprings to resolve. It turned out that there was a fuel dumping by either UPS or Federal Express. They had an engine problem or something, and they had to dump fuel. They did it not only over us, but over Flemington, until finally someone in the New York district told them to go out and fly over the ocean and do it. But it was too late by then.
MR. McNAMARA: Did it have anything to do with Solberg Airport?
MR. CLARK: No. We all worked together to try to make sure everybody knew that it was not Solberg Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: I see.
MR. CLARK: That is the kind of cooperation. We could have sat back and said, "Yeah, it is that Citation jet again," but it was one of these express mail jets out of Newark. It was a foggy night. They were very, very low. In fact, they changed the procedure out of the New York area because of this, from what we have been told.
MR. McNAMARA: That is one of the instances that I was speculating about earlier, that an aircraft flying over -- any one of the tens of thousands of aircraft that fly over Solberg could be responsible for residue on a swimming pool surface, but the Airport would be blamed for it.
MR. CLARK: Well, that is why we asked the Board of Health of the county to assist in identifying. I have not heard anything now for six months on that, I don't believe. It is a dead issue.
MR. McNAMARA: That's a dead issue. They probably determined that it had nothing to do with the Airport.
MR. CLARK: That is what happens in government, sir, and in the newspapers. You read today's newspaper article and you always wonder whatever happened. Sometimes it resolves itself.
MR. McNAMARA: As the Chief Financial Officer of Readington Township, do you believe that Solberg Airport makes a significant economic contribution or just in terms of rendering a service that can be used by businesses in Readington Township, such as Merck?
MR. CLARK: Economic from the standpoint of taxes.
MR. McNAMARA: Without reference to taxes and without reference to-- Well, I guess with reference to dollars -- the economic impact. But, I mean, do you perceive, or do you believe, or is it correct that Solberg Airport is important to Readington Township for those reasons?
MR. CLARK: Yes, as it exists now. The general feeling is that Solberg Airport is an integral part of the community. It is respected and is part of the economic social structure.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there any further questions of this witness?
MS. CASTNER: I just want to make a comment, because I run a balloon festival, too. Even though the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning just rents from the Solbergs, there is a study that the Division of Travel and Tourism does every year -- Linda Conlin, Director. It is called the Longwood Study. It documents not only the initial dollars that come from the festivals individually, but then the secondary dollars and down the line. It is the second largest industry in this State, tourism. According to our little thing that we are having done, this economic impact, under Solberg Hunterdon Airport the festival gives in excess of $100,000 to the local community each year.
MR. CLARK: The balloon festival?
MS. CASTNER: Correct.
MR. CLARK: One hundred thousand to the local community?
MS. CASTNER: It says it gives it to the charities and the service groups. I know they have groups that come in, like the Lions, to help to serve the community. I know the fire company gets it. I know the rescue squad gets it. I know the tax base gets it. I know the hotels do packaging and are totally filled up. I know that they use bus groups. I know they go to restaurants. I don't know how you can say that the festival doesn't contribute anything.
MR. CLARK: I believe you're right. What I was trying to refer to was, do people stop on the way in at White House Station and buy gasoline.
MS. CASTNER: Well, I know they stop at Quick-Chek, and we know they are supposed to be coming from Connecticut and Rhode Island. We know they have to put gas in their cars to get back again.
MR. McNAMARA: They have to eat.
MR. CLARK: There is an economic study. I did not know that a price had been put on it. Generally, it causes a traffic jam for the community.
MS. CASTNER: For three days, what else gives you $100,000?
MR. CLARK: I find it hard to believe that we are getting $100,000.
MS. CASTNER: Well, actually, I know that that has to be close to mine, because I get $37,000 to $40,000 a year, and my festival is smaller. That is right out of this pocket.
MR. McNAMARA: And we have already determined that she is reliable. (laughter)
Mr. Clark, I want to--
MR. CLARK: I would conclude--
MR. McNAMARA: I didn't mean to cut you off.
MR. CLARK: No. I would conclude by saying that I agree with your conclusion that she is reliable.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, okay. Thank you.
MS. CASTNER: It is three days.
MR. McNAMARA: I want to thank you for coming. I think we have had a communication problem here. I hope it can be resolved when your Mayor and the members of your committee come. You are welcome to come with your engineers and your attorneys. We are not interested in resolving the actual differences between the township and the Airport, if there are any. That is something that has to take place in another forum. But we are desperately concerned to find out, get to the bottom of what the nature of the problem is.
I feel you felt some constraint about giving thorough testimony in that regard. But in consideration of your being an employee of the township, we are not going to take any steps to compel you to answer questions any more than you have here. However, we do want to have an open, honest, and forthright discussion with Readington, because Readington is one of those communities in the State that has this problem. If we cannot talk with them, we can never do the job the Legislature has asked us to do.
In any event, thank you much for taking the time to come.
MR. CLARK: Thank you, sir, and thank you, members of this Commission.
We have a local hero, Ben DeCosta, who should be awarded a medal for his patience. He is one of the busiest men in the State, and he has sat through this meeting now for several hours.
I apologize to you, Ben.
B E N J A M I N D e C O S T A: That is quite all right.
MR. McNAMARA: We had hoped that it would go faster, but you can see there was a certain recalcitrance with our last witness. It took longer than we had anticipated.
MR. DeCOSTA: I am very pleased to be here. I thought the witnesses, all of them that I witnessed, were very instructive. I got some education.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. DeCosta, it is our policy to swear in our witnesses. Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give this Commission is true, subject to the laws of perjury of the State of New Jersey?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, I do.
MR. McNAMARA: The first matter to be put on the record is that our Commissioner, Huntley Lawrence, has recused himself for the duration of Mr. DeCosta's testimony, because of his relationship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Mr. DeCosta, would you tell us your employer and your position there, please?
MR. DeCOSTA: I am the General Manager of New Jersey Airports for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you have a prepared statement?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, I do.
MR. McNAMARA: Would you please proceed, sir?
MR. DeCOSTA: Good afternoon.
Let me first say that I am very pleased to be here this afternoon to provide some information and testimony to the Study Commission.
Consistent with our mission to identify and meet the critical transportation infrastructure needs of the bistate region, the Port Authority owns/operates three major air carrier airports: Newark International, John F. Kennedy International, and La Guardia Airports; a busy general aviation reliever facility at Teterbor; and two waterfront heliports in Manhattan.
These facilities are vital cogs in the bistate region's economic machine. Last year, Newark, JFK, and La Guardia combined to accommodate over 1.1 million aircraft operations and 77 million passengers, supporting over 222,000 jobs, and generating $25 billion in direct economic activity. Of these totals, Newark alone accounted for 420,000 takeoffs and landings, 27 million passengers, 65,000 jobs, and nearly $7 billion in economic impact.
The downside of these impressive figures is that demand often exceeds airport capacity. In fact, over the past 10 years, Newark has regularly ranked among the top U.S. airports experiencing the most aircraft delays. The simplistic solution is to increase capacity by expanding the physical airfield. Unfortunately, the growth of any of our airports -- and ultimately that of our regional economy -- is hampered by both spatial and environmental constraints. Limited available real estate and the sensitive issue of aircraft noise virtually preclude us from building new airports or even new runways at existing airports. We must, therefore, continue our efforts toward maximizing the use of existing facilities.
One way to do this is through demand management. Since 1968, the Port Authority has employed pricing mechanisms to place what economists refer to as "an opportunity cost" on the use of scarce resources. Besides a weight-based flight fee, we impose a surcharge of $100 -- $50 for commuter aircraft -- which is meant to discourage small aircraft from operating during the peak traffic hours at Newark Airport. Consider that in 1995 commuter and general aviation at Newark comprised 29 percent of all takeoffs and landings, yet accommodated only 7 percent of total passengers. A four-seat Cessna taking up a flight slot that could be filled by a 400-passenger 747 is obviously an extremely inefficient use of our airport runway system.
While the Port Authority's pricing strategy is intended to discourage general aviation traffic at Newark, we both support and encourage the relocation of this activity to other New Jersey airports, such as Teterboro, Caldwell, Morristown, and Linden, designated by the FAA as "reliever" facilities. General aviation traffic, and the airports that accommodate it, are important contributors to the economy, safety, and security of this region.
* General aviation airports are economic generators that provide valuable support infrastructure for many of the region's businesses.
* The proximity of a general aviation airport is often an important factor in the siting of corporate headquarters, for example. This translates into jobs and a better quality of life for the citizens of this region.
* General aviation airfields provide staging areas for VIP movements, law enforcement activities, military aviation, and emergency and disaster response.
* General aviation provides a pipeline of trained pilots, merchanics, and managers to the aviation industry.
* A general aviation airport is often viewed as an important community asset and a source of civic pride.
Acknowledging these contributions, general aviation access to the bistate region must not only be preserved, but enhanced through the improvement of local airports. As Newark becomes increasingly geared to serving the scheduled passenger and cargo markets, New Jersey reliever facilities must necessarily pick up the lion's share of the growth in general aviation traffic.
There are, however, obstructions to this vision of an integrated, complementary, regional airport system. Airspace sharing and infrastructure funding are among the problems that must be addressed.
For airports such as Teterboro and Linden to truly function as relievers, they must operate independent of Newark International's traffic. At present, operations at these airports can cause significant delays for Newark air carriers under bad weather conditions due to airspace sharing.
Working with the FAA and the airlines through the local Capacity Enhancement Task Force, we have either completed or are now pursuing the following initiatives to mitigate airspace sharing and permit a greater degree of independent operations among Newark and its satellite relievers:
1) Instrument landing system on Newark Runway 11.
That was commissioned early last year.
2) Charted visual approach procedures to Teterboro Runways 1 and 6.
3) Precision approach to Teterboro Runway 19.
4) Global positioning system approach to Linden Runway 9.
5) Staffing of a satellite departure control position at the New York Terminal Radar Control Facility -- TRACON -- on Long Island.
Airspace limitations notwithstanding, the more pressing need for our system of reliever airports is adequate and reliable funding for ground infrastructure. While the future of airport funding is an unresolved issue at this point, the Port Authority is examining all its options. One strategy, which recognizes the importance of general aviation airports, involves a potential alliance among the Port Authority and the operators of local reliever facilities. Should the Port Authority elect to pursue increased passenger facility charge collections, our lost share of Airport Improvement Program -- AIP -- funds might become available to our reliever airports as part of the Small Airport Fund. Adequate funding mechanisms for both air carrier and reliever facilities in a coordinated airport system is essential to support the growth of air commerce in the bistate region.
Looking to the future of general aviation, we are encouraged by Bell-Boeing's progress on developing a civil variant of the military's V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor. As many of you know, the Tiltrotor is an aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly enroute with the speed and comfort of a modern turboprop. A six-passenger Tiltrotor, currently being proposed by Bell-Boeing, could revolutionize corporate aviation by providing air access directly to the city center. For example, a time-sensitive insurance company executive could avoid delays associated with busy airports and congested roadways by flying directly from the Prudential Towers heliport in Boston to a rooftop vertiport on its corporate headquarters building in downtown Newark. With the emergence of Tiltrotor, satellite nagivation, and other new technology, the future of general aviation, although fraught with uncertainty, is not as bleak as it may sometimes appear.
In conclusion, I appreciate the opportunity to express the Port Authority's view of the vital importance of general aviation to this region. With shrinking Federal dollars, we can no longer rely on Washington to help solve our problems. Colectively, the aviation industry must identify innovative solutions to airport funding and capacity shortfalls. Together, we must endeavor to provide the necessary aviation infrastructure to enhance this region's competitiveness in a global economy. In the years ahead, I anticipate much greater cooperation within the community of airport operators, and I look forward to working with members of the Commission, and with the industry in general.
Thank you very much.
MR. McNAMARA: Thank you, Mr. DeCosta.
You mentioned that Morristown, Teterboro, Caldwell -- or Essex County, as it is known -- and Linden were your designated relievers. Are not Somerset, Solberg, and Kupper relievers also?
MR. DeCOSTA: I am not sure whether or not they are designated relievers for Newark International Airport. I will have to find out for you.
MR. McNAMARA: I know that at least Somerset is. I believe Solberg is, and Princeton is.
Is the general theory that-- Obviously, there are two considerations: One is surface area available for aircraft operations, and the other is airspace available for aircraft operations. Years ago, we used to see the picture of the 10 or 20 747s lined up behind the Piper Cub in some airports. Somebody got that famous picture. It said that was the reason for aircraft delays at major airports. I suppose the airlines must have gotten that picture.
If that is the concept on the surface, is there also a problem in the air itself -- in the airspace itself?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes. The capacity problems faced by the industry are not only runway and taxiway space, but also we operate, in this region, probably the busiest airspace in the nation with the three commercial airports -- La Guardia, JFK, and Newark, as well as the other general aviation airports. Very busy airspace.
MR. McNAMARA: Does it come closer to its maximum capacity on a day when operations are conducted according to visual flight rules or instrument flight rules?
MR. DeCOSTA: Instrument flight rules, by a large margin.
MR. McNAMARA: Does it ever come to its maximum capacity under those conditions?
MR. DeCOSTA: That I cannot tell you. I can tell you that during foul weather conditions, everybody experiences delays. If that is kind of the definition of maximum capacity, I guess I would agree with you.
What happens is, just as we drive to work in the morning on a rainy day and the traffic moves more slowly, the same thing happens in the air. Our airspace and our runway system cannot take as many aircraft within a given period of time as it does in foul weather.
MR. McNAMARA: Am I correct in analogizing the situation to a circle, or perhaps a target? As you come in from the periphery of the furthest circle, furthest ring, toward the center, the problem of congestion in airspace exacerbates?
MR. DeCOSTA: Well, you have people who are converging on probably the most populace region in the nation with, as I mentioned--
MR. McNAMARA: Do you mean aircraft populace?
MR. DeCOSTA: I am talking about the residents here--
MR. McNAMARA: Okay.
MR. DeCOSTA: --which basically feeds a air transportation system with the largest numbers. I mentioned in my prepared testimony that we had 77 million passengers last year, and over 2 million movements. All of these flights are converging on this region and are handled in a single airspace.
MR. McNAMARA: The question I am getting to is: That being the case, if there are satellite airports located further away from Newark even than Teterboro, Linden, Morristown, and Essex County, those airports also serve a purpose in relieving the congestion in the airspace used by Newark, even though those aircraft are not destined to go to Newark, but would perhaps be going to Teterboro, Essex County, Morristown, or Linden?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, sir. I would agree with that.
Let me just correct a statement I made: I said over 2 million movements, and I should have said over 1 million movements annually at the three major airports.
MR. McNAMARA: I think you did say 1,100,000.
MR. DeCOSTA: In my prepared testimony, but in answer to your last question I think I misspoke.
MR. McNAMARA: Oh, I see.
For Newark Airport, what would be the most beneficial thing that could be done to the Airport-- I want to consider it in stages. What would be the most beneficial thing that could be done to the airports on the inner ring? I define them as being Teterboro, Morristown, Essex County, and Linden.
MR. DeCOSTA: Right now, I am aware of some of the activities of the Capacity Enhancement Task Force. Much of that affects these inner ring airports. It is basically infrastructure on the ground and airspace enhancements.
MR. McNAMARA: When you say "infrastructure on the ground," you mean giving some transportation services -- or providing transportation services to aircraft that would go to those airports that would be similar to the services they would receive if they went to Newark?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, the technological enhancements to those airports which would allow independent traffic operations even in instrument conditions.
MR. McNAMARA: So the technological enhancements would be in the nature of instrument landing systems?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, GPS.
MR. McNAMARA: Or GPS approaches?
MR. ENGLE: RVRs.
MR. McNAMARA: Runway visual range, instrumentation lighting.
MR. DeCOSTA: The full range of airport instrumentation.
MR. McNAMARA: Going to the next ring out, which might be all the airports in northern New Jersey, from, say, Trenton north, that can accommodate large aircraft, the ones that might have runways of 5000 feet or more -- I am not sure there are a lot of them, but say 4000 feet or more-- What improvements could be made to those airports that would be most beneficial to Newark Airport? I don't mean more beneficial to Newark than to them, but I mean just from Newark's point of view. What would Newark like to see done to those airports?
MR. DeCOSTA: I am not prepared to answer that question. I think that falls into a technical area that is beyond my own experience.
MR. McNAMARA: Would it be correct to say that if the same infrastructure were provided in that ring as we discussed on the inner ring--
MR. DeCOSTA: I would say that it would stand to reason-- I follow the logic that if the inner ring airports relieve Newark to the extent that those inner ring airports experience congestion or delays and some of their activity could be shifted off to this second ring and relieve them, then the entire system would benefit.
MR. McNAMARA: Newark is an airport that would benefit, without question, by having that kind of relief in the airspace. Is that correct?
MR. DeCOSTA: Well, it would certainly be with respect to the first ring, but I would hesitate to try to answer the question with respect to the others without having someone more expert to advise me.
MR. McNAMARA: Would it be logical to think as we are talking about coming toward the center of the target that if we could cut off the flow--
` MR. DeCOSTA: I have to agree with you that the logic is appealing.
MR. McNAMARA: I do not mean to make you make statements. I am not going anywhere of that nature, you know that. I am just trying to follow this logic to see if it has any--
MR. DeCOSTA: I would say that the logic is appealing, but you would probably want to inform that logic with some facts, actual conditions at airports, the amount of demand on their capacity, in order to determine whether or not, in reality, you would get some relief, or whether it is one that is theoretical and as the logic applies.
MR. McNAMARA: In other words, if people want to go to Newark, they want to go to Newark. I'm sorry. If people want to go to New York City--
Let me rephrase the question: If people want to go to Manhattan, they want to go to Manhattan. They do not want to go to the Somerset Airport, unless they can get to Manhattan as quickly from Somerset Airport as they can if they go to Newark.
MR. DeCOSTA: I would agree with that, but I think your point is, if someone is going in the vicinity of Somerset, they can go to Somerset. They do not have to go to Newark in order to get to Somerset. That is a benefit to the Newark airspace and the congestion experienced by others in the region by having some of that traffic destined for the outlying -- to use your language, the second ring, not have to go through the center to get there.
MR. McNAMARA: The Newark Airport, I heard recently, was, for a few years, the airport with the maximum number of delays, the maximum minutes of delay.
MR. DeCOSTA: Sad to say, that was true, but happily it is no longer true.
MR. McNAMARA: I was going to ask: Where is it now on the list?
MR. DeCOSTA: In the last analysis of our performance, I think we are number seven in the United States.
MR. McNAMARA: How many minutes of delay does that represent?
MR. DeCOSTA: I don't remember.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you know what it is in dollars, the cost of delay?
MR. DeCOSTA: Well, the delay goes into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. We have saved a considerable level of expense by the reduction of delays. That delay reduction is already in the tens of millions of dollars, and we are not finished yet.
MR. McNAMARA: Was it, at one time, over a billion dollars at Newark?
MR. DeCOSTA: Well, you would have to-- Actually, a short answer is, "I don't know." The numbers I am using are on an annual basis. It would not take you too many years to get up into the hundreds of millions, for sure.
MR. McNAMARA: I heard that at one point it was over-- When Newark was number one, it was over a billion dollars of delay costs at Newark in one year. I am not confident of that source or of that number.
MR. DeCOSTA: That number would surprise me. I have not heard a number so large on an annual basis. It would depend on what you want to put into it. There are some formulas that take into account even labor costs.
MR. McNAMARA: And the others don't? Oh, I see. Labor costs meaning the pilots.
MR. DeCOSTA: Meaning the pilots, the flight attendants, and other crew members who spend time on the plane while it sits.
MR. McNAMARA: Do they get paid overtime?
MR. DeCOSTA: Well, it differs from airline to airline whether it is straight time, overtime, or premium time. It would depend on the airline labor relations policies.
MR. McNAMARA: So there could be--
MR. DeCOSTA: But primarily what we look at are the fuel costs.
MR. McNAMARA: I see. So when we talk about hundreds of millions, we are only talking about fuel?
MR. DeCOSTA: Probably. I do not present myself as an expert in any of these areas, so I have to caution the Commission not to take specific elements as the gospel. I am making reasonable recollections of estimates that I have become acquainted with over the last couple of years at meetings on this very subject.
MR. McNAMARA: We receive your testimony in that spirit, and gratefully, also.
Are there any other questions for Mr. DeCosta? Mr. Elliott?
MR. ELLIOTT: Ben, do you have a figure for the number of single-engine aircraft that arrive at Newark annually?
MR. DeCOSTA: No, but I can get that for the Commission.
MR. ELLIOTT: And on twin-engine aircraft. Is that figure going to have--
MR. DeCOSTA: I will have to get that for you. I don't know for sure.
MR. McNAMARA: You might address that alternately by noting the amount of 100 no lead -- or reciprocating fuel sales in gallons, and see what the quantities of them -- see how they run, if those numbers are available.
MR. ENGLE: The line on the Port Authority report for business and private aviation averages about 1500 a month.
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, but that is everything. That is your jets--
MR. ENGLE: That's GA jets and everything else.
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, that is an everything number, and that is why I hesitate to try to guess at what percentage is single- or dual-engine aircraft.
I believe that the number is relatively small, because most people with single-engine planes would not pay the $100 surcharge. If that were the case, I would venture to guess that we would raise it from $100 to some other higher number to discourage single-engine planes from coming into Newark.
MR. ELLIOTT: Then that is not really a significant factor.
MR. DeCOSTA: I do not believe it is. But we will get that information for the Commission.
MR. McNAMARA: Are there feeder services that come into Newark to feed the airlines from locations in the metropolitan area?
MR. DeCOSTA: Do you mean commuter aircraft?
MR. McNAMARA: Yes.
MR. DeCOSTA: We have a sizable number of commuter operations on a daily basis.
MR. ELLIOTT: When I said "single engine," that would include also air taxi. Do you know if there are a lot of air taxi activities coming into Newark from surrounding airports?
MR. DeCOSTA: I misunderstand. By air taxi--
MR. ELLIOTT: That is someone who may want to fly from Somerset -- come from Somerset, fly to Newark. They don't want to drive, they would rather fly.
MR. DeCOSTA: We will get that information for the Commission. I don't know.
MR. ELLIOTT: Okay.
MR. McNAMARA: A general aviation airport that would serve as a genuine reliever to Newark Airport would have to be one that would accommodate at least a business jet. Is that a true statement?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, I believe that is the case.
MR. McNAMARA: It would also have to be one that would allow for precision approaches, instrument flight rule, meteorological conditions?
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes, I believe so.
MR. McNAMARA: I have no other questions.
Oh, I do have one. Because of your familiarity with the airports here in New Jersey, can you think of any program that ought to be adopted by the Legislature of this State to help to develop reliever airports which would be beneficial to Newark Airport?
I don't mean to catch you cold, but it is the purpose of this Commission to determine if any legislation should be recommended by us to the Legislature. We would like to know your thoughts on that. If you are unprepared because we didn't warn you of that, we would be very happy to receive a supplemental submission from you, which we will append to the record.
MR. DeCOSTA: I would appreciate having some time to give it some thought, and also to confer with my colleagues. As you know, today's testimony is-- I am representing the Port Authority, and not myself. So, although I might have some personal opinions, it is prudent for me to consult with my colleagues before making such -- or before providing such an opinion on public policy and such legislation as the Legislature might consider.
MR. McNAMARA: Just focus it on that type of legislation. It would be legislation that would affect general aviation airports in New Jersey that would be most beneficial to Newark Airport.
MR. DeCOSTA: Yes.
MR. McNAMARA: It can be anything from providing the funding to making the runway extensions and the technological improvements to, I suppose, building new airports.
MR. DeCOSTA: I think there is probably a full panoply of ideas that might fall within that broad criteria that you expressed. In fact, I think I heard some things earlier today listening to the testimony that might suggest some areas that might include enhancing the communication between local communities and airports, that might indirectly benefit Newark Airport.
MR. McNAMARA: Do you perceive that the Port Authority or Newark Airport would have any purpose to sit in on some of those discussions between general aviation airports and their communities?
MR. DeCOSTA: I doubt it. I don't think, in the position we have of running an airport system that caters mainly to commercial traffic, that we would have a great deal to offer. From what I heard, it is not simply the good ideas that are necessary, but it is the credibility of people talking as human beings one to another that is important. I am not sure that the business we are in puts us in the best position to make a valuable contribution in the negotiations which are currently going on.
MR. McNAMARA: Mr. DeCosta, once again, I want to thank you for your services to this Commission. I especially want to thank you for your patience with us today staying until 6:30 in the evening to give testimony, which I know you anticipated giving at 3:00. Thank you for the quality of the testimony and the time you spent preparing it.
We look forward to receiving any additional submissions you would like to make. We will be happy to append them to our record.
MR. DeCOSTA: Thank you very much.
MR. McNAMARA: With that, unless there is other business to be raised, I declare this meeting adjourned.