Thursday, September 05, 2013

Bucks Residents for Responsible Airport Management tells Yardley Borough Council of attempt to get environmental impact study of new commercial airline’s use at Trenton-Mercer Airport (KTTN), New Jersey

YARDLEY BOROUGH – The Bucks Residents for Responsible Airport Management (BRRAM) is doing all it can to ensure air traffic in and out of the Trenton-Mercer Airport doesn’t get any worse.

Leaders of the civic group gave borough council a detailed update Sept. 3 about a proposed improvement plan and the group’s current fight for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) at the Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN).

They also reported on the current status of new service at TTN with Frontier Airlines.

Council president Joe Hunter said it was the consensus of the council to help BRRAM.

He said he testified during the group’s fight to stop TTN’s expansion about 15 years ago.

“We supported you then,” he said. “We will support you now.”

BRRAM is saying that an EIS should have been conducted before the commercial Frontier Airlines started operations last year at TTN.

Holly Bussey and Rich DeLello, both of Lower Makefield Township and both long-time BRRAM leaders, noted that an EIS “would provide a more in-depth evaluation of the direction of the airport, analyze the need for the project, cumulatively evaluate the impacts from the airport’s past, present, and foreseeable future actions, and develop and implement a reasonable plan of mitigation to minimize the current, as well as future, socio-economic and environmental impacts to airport neighbors.”

BRRAM previously fought to stop the expansion of TTN. The project never came to fruition. BRAAM said they were successful in stopping the expansion in the early 2000s.

“BRRAM has been reactivated as TTN is on the move,” Bussey said.

She said that the FAA issued a statement that should another carrier express an interest, “[it] would likely cause sufficient noise impacts that would require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)”.

They also said the EIS should be done before future work starts at TTN.

The public airport, which is owned by Mercer County, was built by the U.S. Navy in 1924 and was known as Mercer Field. Ownership was transferred to the county in the 1950s.

In 2006, an agreement was reached concerning what would trigger an EIS should another carrier decide to use TTN as their base, according to BRRAM.

“Frontier Airlines has now established a foothold at TTN and will expand their daily departures following airport renovations,” said Bussey. “The quiet skies of Bucks County will cease.”

She said that BRRAM has been actively monitoring the operations and expansions of the airport for well over a decade.

At the meeting, DeLello and Bussey were accompanied by four other BRAAM members. Other concerned residents were in attendance from Yardley Borough including some from the Orchard Hill development off of Dolington Road, North Main Street and Delaware Avenue (River Road).

BRRAM members recently circulated a flyer in some neighborhoods in the borough. In it, residents are encouraged to contribute to BRRAM.

“Currently, BRRAM is filing a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to halt any TTN scheduled improvement work and Frontier service expansion until our case [on] non-compliance is heard in federal court,” the flyer reads.

Borough solicitor Jordan Yeager summed up what BRRAM was saying.

“The allegation is that what’s going on constitutes federal action,” he said.

Bussey said that tax money has been previously used to prop up the airport and its service.

“Historically TTN has had a series of improvements and expansion and has brought in airline service without adhering to the law,” Bussey said. “For decades, the federal government has been dumping millions of taxpayer dollars into TTN for all sorts of improvement projects.”

She said that these projects have “collectively increased the size and capacity of the airport. Over time, the combination of these changes has altered the airport’s original operational character from being a small, good-neighbor, friendly, community airport to an aggressively expanding, federally funded, unplanned and unregulated initiative…”

Bussey said that the airport “is making residents of Pennsylvania’s quality of life miserable and could have a significant economic impact to this historic area.”

BRRAM, she noted, questions how this was permitted and why it continues to happen each time passenger jet service is re-introduced.

In early 2000, BRRAM successfully challenged the introduction of air service and improvements and the finding of no significant impact to the surrounding area.

“Through litigation, BRRAM was successful in causing the FAA and Mercer County to withdraw a proposed new terminal,” she said.

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