UNION COUNTY — A local resident has a new house, the county has another property on its tax rolls, and the Union County Airport is closer to being able to accommodate corporate jets.
The Union County Airport Commission is in the process of acquiring and clearing property on the Union end of the airport runway. The purpose of the acquisition is to lengthen the runway from its current length of 3,500 feet to 5,000 feet which will enable the airport to accommodate corporate jets which currently must land in Spartanburg County even if their destination is Union County.
In addition to facilitating the lengthening of the runway, the acquisition and clearing of the property will enable aircraft to approach and land at the airport in inclement weather when visibility is limited. Once the property has been cleared of trees and other potential obstructions, aircraft equipped with GPS will be able to make what is known as a “non-precision landing” in inclement weather from both ends of the runway without guidance from the ground.
Union County Airport and Stadium Director Ronnie Wade has said that the lengthening of the runway and the ability to have aircraft land without guidance from the ground could bring more business to the airport.
In order to do this, the airport is clearing 100 acres of land, including acreage on which two houses stood at the time they were acquired. One of those houses is no longer at its former location having been acquired by a local resident who moved it from it last week to his property.
“We’ve acquired two homes so far and one has been purchased from us,” Wade said Tuesday. “The new owner acquired it and moved it on Friday. He now has a house and it is back on the county tax rolls.”
Wade said the second house is also up for sale to anyone interested in buying it. He said a person interested in purchasing the building should call the airport at 864-429-1680 to arrange to look at it. If after viewing the house they are still interested in acquiring it, Wade said they will be invited to make a sealed bid on it.
The property being cleared includes 75 acres owned by Union County and 25 acres the airport has either acquired outright or has acquired the right to clear cut from its owners.
Wade said Tuesday that while the clearing of the trees is nearly complete, the airport is still working acquire more land for the extension of the runway and implementation of the non-precision landing system. He said that in the case of those properties with houses on them, if the airport acquires them they will also be available for purchase.
“What we’re doing is the clear zone,” Wade said. “We’re clearing the trees and other obstructions. We’re not interested in the house, we’re interested in the clear zone.”
Wade said that the acquisition and clearing process is being funded by the Federal Aviation Administration which is covering 90 percent of the cost, with the balance split evenly between State Aeronautics and local funds.
Once the acquisition and clearing process is completed, the next phase will be the development of an airport layout plan. Wade said the plan will deal with such issues as the engineering aspects of extending the runway and the airport commission’s vision for the airport’s development over the next 20 years.