Changes could be coming to Bedford County's airports

County leaders looking to rezone New London, Smith Mountain as airport districts

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Changes could be coming to Bedford County's airports. 

County leaders are currently looking to rezone the New London and Smith Mountain Lake airports into airport districts. 

Both properties are privately owned and currently zoned as agricultural and residential. 

It's an issue county leaders say they needed to fix after Liberty University requested to rezone its New London Airport. 

County leaders are still reviewing what an airport district could look like but say this new step is to make sure the airports will succeed in the future, while keeping residents in mind who are against the changes. 

"An airport cannot really function and operate when it's zoned as either residential or agricultural,” Robert Hiss, county administrator, said.

"So we need to balance the rights of both the property owners of these particular transportation facilities and those whose invested their lives and whatnot in the surrounding areas,” Gregg Zody, director of community development, said.

County leaders say Liberty put their rezoning application on hold to speak with nearby residents. 

Neighbors tell 10 News the meeting never happened. 10 News reached out to Liberty for comment and at this time, we have not heard back.

Lisa Hawkins, a neighbor against the rezoning, tells 10 News she has concerns about the county rezoning the airports and believes county leaders aren't giving the process its due diligence.

"This type of zoning is complex and the county doesn't have the type of expertise to write the document in a short period of time and give the public a couple of weeks to review it," Hawkins said.

County commissioners will meet in September to discuss their findings and send them to the board of supervisors. Both meetings are open to the public. County leaders are looking to host the meeting in another building. Click here to find the location.