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Cities disagree on airport ordinance

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
With the Escambia County Commission's passage of a height ordinance that will effect areas near the Brewton Airport, all concerned parties have adopted the resolution with the exception of Riverview. Town officials there have not voted on the matter and there is no immediate plan to do so, according to Mayor Carl Smith.
The height ordinance has been adopted by the county, City of Brewton and the City of East Brewton. But, according to Smith, Riverview officials do not plan to vote on the matter until they speak with officials from Whiting Field regarding the future of the airport.
According to Smith, many residents in Riverview have expressed in writing that they are concerned with the aspect of larger planes landing at the airport. They feel the grant sought by Brewton will allow for larger naval aircraft to fly and land near Riverview.
Brewton Mayor Ted Jennings said the height ordinance has nothing to do with the capacity of the airport, but was needed in order to meet state codes.
Jennings also said that he has not been involved in any discussions with Whiting Field personnel regarding the possibility of larger aircraft using the airport.
Smith said he also planned to contact Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor regarding the legality of Brewton passing the ordinance.
Jennings said the city did what needed to be done in order to meet state guidelines and keep the airport in operation.
Smith also said he felt Riverview was not properly involved in discussions of the ordinance and grant.
In addition, he said he felt that Brewton was dealing with Riverview as an afterthought.
However, Jennings said that he and other officials have attempted to work things out with Riverview. In July, Jennings, along with Airport Board Chairman Earl Lambert and board member John Downing, went to a meeting with Riverview officials upon receiving an invitation to discuss the matter. Jennings said at the time he thought it was "a good meeting" and that the two groups "left on good terms."
Jennings said the airport was an important part of economic development within Escambia County and that it needed to be protected.
Smith said there are currently no homes or structures within the area that would be affected by passage of the ordinance.
The ordinance will limit the height of buildings, mainly towers, that are in the approach paths of the three runways at Brewton Municipal Airport.