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Instrument landings to continue at Garrett airport

OAKLAND – The Morgantown Municipal Airport will be providing an approach navigational signal to the Garrett County Airport that will allow instrument landings to continue at the airport, according to Jay Moyer, director of Garrett County Public Works.

The signal will replace the Grantsville VOR (VHF omnidirectional range) system on Pea Ridge Road that will be decommissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“That will allow the older planes to still use the VOR system for instrument approach. They will be able to land at the airport in foul weather,” said Moyer during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday. “It’s not an issue for the much newer corporate planes, they can use the GPS system. This is important to the airport because, so to speak, we don’t always have the best weather for landing at that airport and this will provide them the system to land at our airport.”

The decommissioning of the VOR system drew opposition from Ed Kelly, manager of the Garrett County Airport, as well as the Maryland Aviation Administration. The VOR had to be decommissioned for the Fourmile Ridge wind project.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved the Fourmile wind project, which will consist of 16 turbines on Frostburg Road, last year.

The Garrett County Engineering Department is in final negotiations for the road use agreement with Exelon for Frostburg Road. An issue with a portion of the agreement that deals with catastrophic damage is still being negotiated, according to Moyer.

“We want some language in there in the event something unforeseen happens that they will bear the expense on that,” said Moyer. “They have committed to paving all the roads involved to the tune of $563,000.”

Commissioner Jim Raley said that there had been some complaints about the road and that the county needs to continue to be proactive instead of reactive.

“In other words, getting down there checking that road on a regular basis making sure the contractor is complying with what we had agreed to,” said Raley.

There is an inspector who visits the project location on a regular basis, according to Moyer.

Garrett County Economic Development is currently in negotiations with Exelon to acquire a 2- to 3-acre plot in Keysers Ridge Business Park, according to Frank Shap, assistant director of Garrett County Economic Development. Exelon currently operates one wind project in the county and is working to develop Fourmile Ridge and Fair Wind, a 15-turbine project planned for Backbone Mountain.

“I believe those negotiations will be successful, although we don’t have a signed contract yet,” said Shap.

Exelon will probably take up a 4,000 square-foot-space in the park and four to six jobs will be created, according to Shap.