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2 studies required before tree removal can start

CHESAPEAKE — It will be at least another year before trees at the Lawrence County Airpark that the Federal Aviation Administration have mandated be removed will actually be cut down.

That’s because, just like the Burlington Courthouse project, an environmental study must be performed. In fact, two studies are required before the project can proceed. The second is a topographical study.

“We need to do an environmental survey that looks for rare species like the Indiana bat,” Bill Nenni, chairman of the Lawrence County Airpark Advisory Board, said. “Then we need to do a survey of the elevation. We have to plot where the tallest trees are and if there are any obstructions.”

For close to a decade there have been concerns about trees at the end of the two runways, especially following a crash in 2005 that killed three after their plane overshot a runway, hit the trees and burst into flames.

The FAA will pick up 90 percent of the removal and the studies while five percent of both must be matched by Lawrence County. Ohio Aviation funded by aviation gasoline taxes will pay the remaining five percent.

In past years the state has taken that money to use in its general fund, according to Nenni.

“Ohio Aviation has been very inactive,” Nenni said. “But the federal government has said if you are going to collect taxes on aviation fuel, it has to go for aviation.”

The county’s match is expected to come from the $150,000 it gets from the FAA each year. That can be carried over for three years or spent each year.

“We think that money will fund both of the studies and the project,” Nenni said.