Councils hammer out plans for airport industrial park

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Christopher Sardelli
In an effort to attract businesses to the county and put more residents back to work, several city and county officials met Thursday night to discuss plans for an airport industrial park.
Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell presented tentative plans for the park at a meeting in Lancaster City Council chambers.
On hand to discuss everything from tracts of land to millage concerns were members from both councils, including Lancaster County Council Chairwoman Kathy Sistare and Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw. Also attending were County Attorney Mike Ey, City Attorney Mandy Powers Norrell, County Administrator Steve Willis and City Administrator Helen Sowell.
Tunnell recommended both councils work together to develop an intergovernmental agreement to create a park near the airport.
Walking the group through a PowerPoint presentation, Tunnell said there are more than 1,500 available acres of land near the Lancaster County Airport that could be included in the plan, including about 585 acres from Springland properties, 485 acres from the Gibson family, 300 acres from Winston Smith, 85 acres from Malcolm Edwards and 85 acres from Bill Carothers.
“All of these properties are either zoned industrial now or will be industrial as part of the project,” Tunnell said. “My recommendation is we’re ready to go and if the city and county can reach an agreement we can get started on this park.”
The next step in the process is to officially identify which parcels will be included in the joint agreement between the city and county, Tunnell said.
Both councils will then be responsible for accepting those properties and finalizing the agreement.
At the same, Tunnell plans to meet with each property owner to get them under contract or put options on their land.
“After that, we will seek proposals from developers to know what they will put into the mix,” he said.
“Later, we will develop spec buildings and get construction started at the park.”
Tunnell and his staff also plan to apply for grants to help fund the project and are looking at getting site certification for the area.
Despite being in the initial stage, Tunnell has already noticed significant interest in the park.  
“Before we’re even seeking proposals from developers, we’ve already had six visits from developers to see the area,” he said.
Tunnell said he’s glad the airport industrial park is closer to a reality after facing two major hurdles, including working on the intergovernmental agreement and locating funding to build the park.
The money to build the park will come from a $3.5 million bond approved by the county last fall.
“This has been a long time coming and I’m very, very excited,” Tunnell said.
The project is expected to begin along Grace Avenue and will include an entrance near the old Springs store, which will eventually be turned into a spec building to attract future companies.
“I think this will be wildly successful,” Tunnell said. “This is the future of the county.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416