Saturday, June 16, 2007

Private Airfield Request Denied Blackwater Pilot Wanted Moyock Field

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Blackwater USA pilot's plans to build a private airfield was grounded this week after his neighbors complained about the proposal.
During their meeting Tuesday, the Currituck Planning Board unanimously rejected Phill Bragg's proposed airstrip on Summit Farm Trails in Moyock. The airfield would have been within sight of property owned by Blackwater USA, Bragg's employer.
Bragg also is apparently involved with PigMasters, a North Carolina-based barbecue firm. On its Web site, Bragg's vintage biplane is jokingly referred to as PigMasters' "corporate jet."
Currituck Chief Planner David Webb had recommended approval of Bragg's request for a special use permit for a 1,400-foot-long grass airstrip with two hangars. But only on the condition that the airfield would not be used for commercial activities.
Bragg, who currently lives in Shawboro, said he intended to build a home on the lot and to live there.
"The lot is a 16-acre lot and it's on the end," he said. "There won't be any overflight of residences," he said, pointing out that his airplane would be flying over Blackwater's property.
"This is a very small grassroots-type operation with little or no impact. It's not a noisy endeavor," he said.
Bragg said his antique biplane is a hobby.
"It's like having a sailboat tied up on your dock if you live on the water," he said. "If you're a pilot, it's nice to walk out into your backyard and have a grass strip."
But half-a-dozen residents who showed up at the Planning Board meeting weren't satisfied with Bragg's assurances.
While conceding he wouldn't be conducting business, they pointed to his involvement with PigMasters, a company that organizes private functions. Residents said Bragg might use the airstrip to fly in guests for parties.
"My concern is that this gentleman is in a club, something like flying pigs," said Warren Wilgus, who lives on Oxford Road.
"They go out and they have barbecue roasts. This house here could be one of the main meeting places for them landing. There's no restrictions on the number of aircraft. They could be having a big old party."
Neighbors were also suspicious of why Bragg had applied for a permit for two hangars, if he only owns one aircraft.
Mike Colter of Summit Farms Trail, said he was concerned about fuel storage on the site.
"A special use permit for a privately owned airstrip will open (things) up for more general aviation owners," he said.
Colter also wasn't satisfied with Bragg's pledge to restrict his flight pattern.
"Years from now as the area gets developed he'll be flying over more people," he said.
Drew McIntyre, who is building a home nearby on Oxford Road, said his reason for coming to the subdivision was "for peace and quiet."
"An airplane is an airplane. I cannot imagine getting up in the morning and listening to an aircraft taking off and landing in this nice area," he said.
Sherry Motes, of Summit Farm Trails, questioned why Bragg couldn't instead fly from Currituck Regional Airport, about eight miles away in Maple.
After the hearing, Bragg said he was taken aback by the level of opposition. He said didn't want to do anything to offend his neighbors.
The Planning Board then voted to reject Bragg's request for a special use permit.
The board also agreed to revisit the county's limited rules on private airfields.

Find this article at: