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"Are Myrtle Beach airport terminal objections real or false?"

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Are terminal objections real or false?
The Myrtle Beach (SC) Sun News

The Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board recently delivered a potentially
fatal blow to the new terminal for Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The board voted 6-1 against the plans. I don't have a problem with the vote.
People are appointed to make tough decisions even when others disagree. But
I wondered about the reasons.

Board Chairman Larry Bragg said there are concerns the terminal might affect
property values, quality of life and safety on the former air base. But are
those concerns based on exhaustive studies or personal hunches?

I ask because it seems that's the standard way to oppose development. It's
been used to protest everything from a methadone clinic to high rises and

CAB member Birgit Darby voted against the terminal because last week was the
first time the board had seen the plans. They've seen other versions, but
"they keep scaling it back. There were too many things that might be

That's a reasonable objection. Cost overruns forced officials to abandon
some of the features they initially envisioned.

Darby also said she decided against buying an apartment on the former air
base because "you have airplanes flying over your head all day long."

But the developer of Market Common - one of those developments that would
supposedly be harmed - says airports are good for the economy and that he
can't hear the planes from his company's office. If property values were
really going to be harmed, he'd be the first to be up at arms.

While the quality-of-life argument should always be a consideration, we
should never accept it without question. That doesn't mean there should be
no debate about the new terminal before Horry County Council's vote next

Interstate 73 could eventually mean more industry and the kind of year-round
fly-in business clientele we must attract. But Hooters Air has pulled up
stakes. AirTran left. The airline industry is making its way through
bankruptcies, threats of bankruptcies and mergers. And it says a lot that an
industry leader like Jet Blue has so far decided against coming to Myrtle
Beach even though area officials have courted it.

Why should we be convinced that air traffic will grow enough to warrant a
$228 million price tag when air traffic hasn't even gotten back to pre-Sept.
11 levels and has decreased this year?

There are legitimate questions about the new terminal. Property values and
safety concerns don't seem to be among them.

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