BEDFORD, Va. - In the last 48 hours, Lisa Hawkins and neighbor Mark Downs have been spreading the word and speaking against Liberty University's plan for the New London Airport in Bedford County.
"The extended runway that they show their plan will allow jets to fly in and out of this area. They don't talk about the impacts ... on the surrounding neighborhoods," Hawkins said.
Liberty bought the small airport in 2016 for $1.8 million. The school is looking to rezone the 460-plus acres of land from agricultural to commercial. The proposed map shows the university wants to make additions and add a new runway.
Bedford County planners said the School of Aeronautics will move from the Lynchburg Regional Airport to Bedford.
"I think Liberty is making the case that it will benefit us from an educational factor. It offers higher education for the area. I think the county's perspective (is that) it could have some economic impacts," Jordan Mitchell, Bedford County planner, said.
But for Downs who lives nearby, "About 50 yards behind the tree line is where my property line stops. And that's where, looking at the proposal, we're about 600 feet from the edge of the runway. So, significantly closer than we would want any airport," Down said.
Hawkins has created an online and paper petitions with about 300 signatures already.
"My hopes for Tuesday is that the planning commission votes no because it is not in line with the Bedford County comprehensive plan and it is not good for this community," Hawkins said.
Liberty has chosen not to comment until the public meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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