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Airport expansion advances

By Burk Krohe

The Manhattan Regional Airport made progress toward its anticipated expansion at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. Commissioners approved a design contract for terminal expansion at the airport and accepted a federal grant that will fund most of the contract.

Commissioners approved the contract with little discussion, but they have generally supported expansion and lauded the airport’s success in recent years.

Peter Van Kuren, airport director, said the current terminal was built in the 1990s and was designed based on the service offered at the time. However, jet service to Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago has increased the number of passengers going through the airport.

Van Kuren said the airport handled more than 54,000 enplanements in 2011 and expects to increase that number by 10,000 in 2012. In response to the increased demand, the airport conducted a study for a terminal area master plan. The plan outlined significant increases in the terminal and parking lot size to accommodate growth.

The terminal expansion will be designed as one building but will be built in four phases. The contract with Mead and Hunt, Inc., of Madison, Wisc., will cover the first three phases. The design cost is $1.28 million, but the airport received a $911,565 federal grant for the project. The city will still have to put up $386,961. Financing is expected to be done by issuing four-year temporary notes. However, the city will fund that debt service from passenger facility charges, which is a $4.50 fee charged for each enplaned passenger.

Also Tuesday, commissioners approved an ordinance amending zoning regulations for driveways located in front of single-family and two-family homes.

The new ordinance allows all homes, including those with rear-loaded attached garages and detached garages, a 24-foot wide driveway. Additionally, homes with a three-car garage may have a 36-foot wide driveway.

Eric Cattell, assistant director for planning, said the previous regulation requires that 75 percent of the area between the front property line and the front facade of a house be landscaped open space. Cattell said the regulation was meant to prevent front yards from being entirely paved.

Cattell said the regulation reflected older home styles, but said design standards are changing. He said the regulation didn’t easily accommodate the wider driveways of larger, newer homes with three-car garages and more varied front facade depths.

He said limiting width, rather than using a percentage will make the ordinance easier to administer.

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