Bedford County planning commission rejects plans to make Airport District

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Bedford County, VA. (WFXR) – The Bedford County Planning Commission voted to reject plans on the development of a proposed zoning ordinance amendment to create an airport district.

The Bedford County Planning Commission held public hearings on Monday, December 16, at 7 p.m. in the Jefferson Forest High School Auditorium, located near the entrance for the Jefferson Forest High School football stadium, directly across from Perrowville Road.

The vote to not recommend the items to the board of supervisors includes the creation of an airport district, an amendment to the comprehensive plan and an application to have an area for the airport and potential expansion rezoned.

The change in rezoning the airport district was requested after Liberty University submitted plans to modify the New London Airport, which the school bought for $1.8 million in late 2015.

Under the Airport District Draft Ordinance, the purpose of the Airport District is to not only find suitable areas for potential airport facilities in the county but to recognize existing facilities and allowing them to operate within the district.

Dozens showed up to oppose the rezoning. Many saying an expanded airport would reduce their property values and some saying that the actual plan for the airport expansion was unclear. One said he hopes what happened tonight sends a message to the board.

“There’s no place for liberty University to expand the non-conforming airstrip in New London. no way should they have a flight school out there. which will have a drone school as well. this would be detrimental to the entire county. because there will be a huge property loss,” said Chris Barber.

Bedford County residents voiced their concerns back in September. A petition on Change.org titled “Stop the proposed airport district at New London and the rezoning of Agriculture Preserve”, which has gotten over 900 votes, seeks to halt the rezoning.

“When you have these older airports there’s an expectation that you’re not going to increase, it’s going to kind of stay the same, and I think that’s what concerns a lot of people, the unknown, what’s actually going to go there,” says Gregg Zody, the Bedford County Community Development Director.

Officials postponed their vote back in September on whether they wanted to change the zoning area from an agricultural preserve to an airport district.

The postponement allowed them to research and gather more information on how similar localities to Bedford County, such as Orange County and Culpeper County, developed design standards for an airport district and how they treated the rezoning process.

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