AOPA Helps Squash Development Around W18
Pilots from Suburban
Airport (W18) in Laurel (MD) are enjoying the sweet smell of
victory, thanks to some backing from the AOPA.
Airport supporters scored a major victory Monday night, when the
county council refused to change zoning rules that would have
allowed hundreds of condos and townhouses to be built on the
More than 250 people jammed the Anne Arundel County Council
chambers to witness the firey debate between the develpoer seeking
the zoming change, AOPA representatives and the state's own
"Michael Cummins is the Airport Support Network volunteer for
Suburban, and he did a superb job of organizing pilots and the
surrounding community," said ASN Manager Mark Lowdermilk, who also
attended and spoke at Monday night's meeting. "Our arguments that
the airport preserves green space and prevents high-density
population in an area that already lacks adequate infrastructure
resonated with neighbors and council members alike."
Suburban is a privately owned airport with no federal grant
obligations. It is under contract to a developer who wanted to
build 641 condominium and townhouse units on the site but needed a
zoning change in order to proceed.
As an incentive, the developer had promised that half of the
units would be priced so that teachers, police officers,
firefighters, and other public servants could afford them.
But neighbors argued
that building that many homes in the midst of an already developed
area would swamp local roads, schools, and other public facilities.
In the end, the council member who represents the Suburban Airport
area supported his constituents' wishes and refused to put forward
a proposal to change the zoning. While they had the right to do so,
none of the other council members backed a zoning change
The developer, the Polm Company, immediately said it would
expand the airport to a 300-aircraft facility, in an effort to
scare neighbors into thinking they would have an extremely busy
airport in their backyards. But AOPA's Lowdermilk and Maryland's
Director of Regional Aviation Assistance Bruce Mundie had already
defused that argument, telling the council that the 56-acre site
could not possibly house that many aircraft.
The Airport Support Network is made up of volunteers like
Michael Cummins at over 1,500 airports nationwide. The volunteers
act as AOPA's eyes and ears, alerting the association to any
brewing problems, and acting as an advocate for the airport in the