The city is preparing the Covington Municipal Airport for future development, and the council approved the clear cutting of 16 acres of trees on land south of the runway.
The Covington City Council approved a contract with Madison-based M.K. Crowell Grading, which will clear cut the trees at no monetary cost in exchange for keeping the lumber.
The city will have to purchase construction fencing to protect the creek running from City Pond southeast along the line of trees. The fencing will be installed by the land application department, Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello said. The land will be cleared up to 25 feet from the creek.
The land will be clear-cut, but the tree stumps will not be removed. Grubbing, as the stump removal process is called, requires a separate land disturbance permit, Passariello said.
This area cannot be developed until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves a construction permit; however, Passariello said M.K. Crowell was available to do the clear cutting now, so city officials moved forward with that preliminary step.
The city is planning to move all major operations to the southeastern side of the airport property, which will be accessible by a new entrance off Ga. Highway 142. Plans call for a new $1.5 terminal building complete with restaurant and several offices, as well as hangar spaces, parking, a taxiway and another fuel farm.
The terminal will be located close to Ga. 142, east of the creek, in an area which can be developed now. The first step will be to create a new entrance and lay the asphalt.
City Manager Steve Horton told the council he hoped to bring it concept designs for the overall layout and the terminal building sometime in January. A initial concept was presented in October, but Horton said the Georgia Department of Transportation requested some changes.
In other airport news, Horton said he will ask the council in January to approve transitioning the duties of airport manager, which currently fall upon the city manager, to Passariello, who is airport engineer and oversees operations.
Horton said the airport is essentially its own operation and is not related to other city business and that it would make more sense for a dedicated employee to be official airport manager. He suggested the transition take place from January to June 30. Horton is planning to retire sometime in 2012.
Because of the Christmas holiday, the city council will have its second monthly meeting Dec. 13.