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South Middleton Township

South Middleton Township supervisors seek airport development district

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Carlisle Airport 1

South Middleton Township recently purchased the Carlisle Airport.

South Middleton Township supervisors recently agreed to amend commercial district regulations in the township’s zoning ordinance to establish an airport development district.

Changes relate to the township’s purchase of Carlisle Airport in 2021. Under municipal ownership, the facility is eligible for grant funding for improvements or expansions unattainable under private ownership.

Township officials said last month that the new zoning district was developed to allow “the type of development that would benefit from the presence of an airport.” Prior to Thursday’s approval, the airport at 228 Petersburg Road fell within the township’s commercial zone.

“As that (commercial) district is governed in the (township’s) zoning ordinance, it was not conductive to the immediate and long-term development and growth of the airport we envision,” township manager Cory Adams said. “By placing it within its own zoning district, we can better plan for and implement the growth and expansion of airport operations, including future aviation-related support activities and businesses.”

Allowable uses in a township airport district include aircraft hangar rentals, offices, restaurants/cafes or storage uses, with a goal of “keeping the airport profitable as to not burden the township taxpayers to fund its operation.”

South Middleton has projected a $505,000 profit from airport operations this year, and a total revenue stream of $17 million next year inclulding grants and financing. Township officials said operating the facility involves no taxpayer funding.

Total permitted uses include airports/heliports, including aircraft storage and maintenance; equipment sales and service, and related support facilities including, but not limited to storage, sale and installation of aircraft parts; storage dispensing of aviation fuel; control tower and associated uses; hangars; training/classes/schools associated with flight training; passenger terminal, restaurant and parking facilities; and emergency medical services to include onsite living quarters.

Also permitted: municipallyowned airport commercial centers in planned single or multiple buildings for retail businesses, professional offices, business and professional services, repair services, restaurants, taverns and nightclubs, municipal buildings and services, greenways and trails, essential services as defined, accessory uses/buildings incidental to permitted uses, and ministorage/self-storage facility.

Conditional uses include privately owned airport commercial centers defined as a group or above permitted uses, and/or conditional uses planned and designed as a common commercial units in single or multiple buildings, such as convenience stores with gasoline sales, or hotels and motels.

Prohibited uses include residences, except as otherwise allowed, junkyards, heavy industrial uses, travel plazas, truck terminals/warehousing/distribution, and automobile wrecking.

The ordinance also lists requirements for lot and area sizes, and specified abutment distance to nonresidential or residential properties in the airport development zone.

The township plans to spend $1.65 million this year for improvements at the airport largely funded through state and federal grants. Initial 2022 projects include runway lighting upgrades and hazard mitigation. Also planned are construction of a new Life Lion hangar, additional hangar space to rent and a new terminal building.

In January, the township contracted Michael Baker International for engineering work on planned improvements at the site at costs yet to be determined. The firm will submit separate proposals on a project-to-project basis, township engineer Brian O’Neill previously said.

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