State Requires Airport To Prepare Environmental Report On Master Plan
By: James Kinsella
The state’s top environmental official is requiring the Barnstable Municipal Airport to prepare an environmental impact report on the possible effects of its master plan.
In a letter dated October 8 and received October 14 by the airport, Ian A. Bowles, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, notified the airport of his decision.
Airport manager R.W. “Bud” Breault Jr. estimated Tuesday that the report will cost $92,000 to prepare. He anticipates that most of the report’s cost will be covered by funding sources other than the airport or the Town of Barnstable.
Of greater concern to Mr. Breault and the Barnstable Municipal Airport Commission is the need to prepare and receive state approval of the report in time to meet a Cape Cod Commission deadline next July regarding construction of a new terminal at the airport.
The commission, Mr. Breault said, has approved construction of the terminal as a development of regional impact, or DRI. One requirement to get a sign-off from the commission on the completion of the project is to obtain approval of environmental impact reports involving the airport.
To complete its terminal project, the airport needs a certificate of compliance from the Cape commission, one of several requirements for eventual approval of the terminal DRI.
The airport previously had received state approval on an environmental impact report directly tied to the new terminal project.
Mr. Breault said he had hoped the master plan would not require a report, given the time constraints faced by the airport on the permitting and construction of the terminal and related projects, including expanded parking and a new airport access road.
This new report would address aspects of the master plan for development of the airport over the next 10 to 12 years, even though some projects included in the master plan may not be built within that period, if at all.
Proposed projects in the master plan include construction of a series of general aviation and corporate hangars; expansion of the East Ramp apron for the parking of general aviation aircraft; improvement of taxiways; and lease of the former Mildred’s restaurant site.
Mr. Bowles ruled that the master plan still will require an environmental impact report because the work included in the plan will require state agency action—a sewer extension permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection—and also because the proposed work would create 10 or more acres of impervious area.
The October 8 letter from the state secretary calls on the airport to prepare a report that discusses how alteration of land can be kept to a minimum; how proposed projects at the airport will comply with stormwater management rules; how to measure and limit greenhouse gas emissions associated with master plan projects; how to protect town wells from impacts from master plan construction; how to protect Upper Gates and Lewis ponds from pollution.
Mr. Breault said local and state permitting requirements on the terminal project created a chain of events that eventually made a decision necessary on whether to require the report.
As a requirement of the terminal DRI, Mr. Breault said, the airport had to prepare a master plan and also reach a development agreement with the Cape commission.
The development agreement, he said, required the preparation of a form on whether an environmental report is needed on the master plan.
With the decision by Mr. Bowles, the airport now will have to prepare an environmental report that meets the secretary’s approval, and then take notice of that approval to the Cape commission.
The commission, Mr. Breault said, then would be open to approving the development agreement, a key requirement of DRI approval, the ultimate permitting prize on the terminal project.
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