Blasted: Will City Council carry weight with airport?

Angry homeowners in the Walnut Hills neighborhood next door to the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport say their well-maintained houses are cracking up– literally. They've got cracks in their walls, their foundations, their septic systems. They've asked the airport to halt the blasting that's part of its runway extension, and April 15, City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of this Albemarle County 'hood to halt the blasting.


That's not going to happen, at least according to airport executive director Melinda Crawford. "We're moving forward with the project until directed otherwise by the authority," she says.


The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Authority is a three-man board appointed by City Council and the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, and whether the council resolution will influence Albemarle county exec Tom Foley, the city's Aubrey Watts, and UVA prof Bill Kehoe remains to be seen. Those authority members had not responded to the Hook at press time.

Crawford met with the Walnut Hills neighborhood association the same night City Council called for a halt to the blasting. "I understand their questions and concerns," she says. However, she maintains that the blasting does not exceed standards. "Until there's other evidence, we have to move forward," she says.

That's the rub for home-damaged residents like Jonathan Boersma. "It's offensive to say it's not related," he says, recounting an incident in which a neighbor who lives the farthest from the airport had pictures fall off the wall from a blast last week. "We've had people observe this but the airport won't say it's related," he fumes.

"We're bringing a geo-technical firm on board," says Crawford. "The airport offered to arrange home inspections of those who request them so there will be a baseline for when the blasting stops in June."

"That doesn't address the issue of the current damage," counters Boersma. Walnut Hills wants the blasting company to at least set up an escrow account. Contractor Maine Drilling and Blasting has told neighbors who've complained about damage that it won't be processing any claims until all the blasting is complete.

"Generally speaking, we found the response from the airport rather shallow and hollow," say Boersma.

"They were very pleasant, very gracious," says Crawford of her meeting with Walnut Hills residents. "We really want to be good neighbors. We care about their issues."


Is there an issue on which the Charlottesville City Council will not weigh in? Regardless of the merits of this issue, what's left unexplained is why the City Council is passing such a resolution? How does it affect the City of Charlottesville, exactly?

Has this council looked at the damage they've done to the city with the Meadowcreek parkway construction?

Wondrin' they are talking about actual damage to actual people's private property, not imagined damage to the psyche of people who hate new roads.

I'm talking about actual damage to a fine park and a formerly amazing rock walled garden. Then there's the damage that sending all of that traffic right through the middle of town will do. Think that parkway will really stay 2 lane for long once it has a foothold? Think there won't be a cry to widen the rest of the route through to 5th st extended?

Thank you for passing a resolution for Tibet's freedom. I'm sure this resolution will help the airport as much as the City's resolution did for Tibet.

WINA had the airport director hired 2 months ago on "Charlottesville Right Now" with Jay James. Melinda Crawford claimed the airport is a private company and takes no local taxes. Sorry- private companies don't have the power of eminent domain to destroy churches, not for a runway, but for an approach to a runway. Also, last I checked, a grant from a tax-funded agency like FAA is tax money. CHO receives tax money and tax-payer property taken without due process. That's a fact.

An hour later Supervisor Rodney Thomas was interviewed and represented the airport by repeating verbatim the talking points of the airport director. Thomas tried to say, based on the airport's own measurements 62% below the safe limit, the damage could not have happened and therefore did not happen.

This reminds me of the micro-burst a few years ago. The state climatologist said it was straight-line winds, not a tornado. A few days after the windstorm, someone called Jay James and went on the air to say he had a photo of a tornado near Georgetown Road. Who are you supposed to believe- an eyewitness or a radar 80 miles away?

In the case of the airport, we know it's false to say the airport is a private company not receiving tax money or tax-payer resources. What else is the airport misinformed about?