ROCKVILLE—On Oct. 1, the Montgomery County Council held a short meeting to discuss current bills and vote on legislation.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, the council heard from Alicia Stanley of Davis Airport LLC, located in Gaithersburg. The small airport was established in the 1940s and received new management in 2009. The airport has a 2,005-foot paved runway for takeoffs and landings and offers plane maintenance, flight instruction and plane tie-down options.
The council was tasked with approving a Declaration of No Further Need, which would allow the county to sell property that has no more than nominal value. The plot of land in question is 17.47 acres.
Stanley explained that the owners of the small airport are looking to buy the piece of county land directly adjacent to the Davis Airport runway. Owning this additional land will allow the airport to expand the runway, which Stanley said is cramped.
“While the runway is within the (Federal Aviation Administration) minimums, our short runway makes training difficult and leaves little margin for error in case of emergency,” she said. “We need to be able to assure pilots and the community the safest possible conditions.”
She went on to explain that given when Davis Airport was established, the short runway was meant for smaller planes, not large modern ones.
“The Davis Airport was created in 1946, and (the runway) is still at a length that doesn’t work as well for more modern airplanes. The airport will still be small, and it won’t open up a space for jets or bigger planes, but it will make it safer for the small single-engine planes we already serve,” Stanley said.
A longer runway would also make the airport more desirable for young pilots who are still in training and want to stay away from busier training airports, Stanley said.
“The land we’re trying to purchase is of little use to anyone else; it’s in the airport safety zone and can’t be developed. We feel it would be beneficial to the county to have us buy and maintain it,” she said. “The county will receive a safer air infrastructure system as well as an asset committed to providing needed services.”
According to Stanley, the airport is used by local public schools and higher education institutions like the Universities at Shady Grove for hands-on education. Local fire and police departments use the facility for training and testing exercises.
“This is a good thing for us and a good thing for the community,” Stanley said.
She went on to note that Davis Airport intends to be a good steward of the land if given the opportunity to buy it from the county.
According to the council, the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee both recommended approval by the county council.
In a roll call vote, the council voted unanimously to approve the Declaration of No Further Need and sell the land to the airport.
The council also briefly discussed legislation that will update the county’s tax credits to allow an investor interested in cybersecurity an incentive tax credit supplement.
Councilmember Hans Riemer explained that the changes to county legislation would make it align more with state laws for a more-streamlined investment process.
“The bill will improve the county’s cybersecurity tax credit, which is an economic development initiative that is intended to help start or launch new cybersecurity companies,” he said. “I introduced the initial legislation a number of years ago to create the local tax credit, and it is essentially a companion to the state tax credit. So, if the state provides you with a tax credit for your cybersecurity business, then the county will match it.”
He explained that in recent years the state changed its legislation so that the tax credit goes toward the investor.
“This change is matching the state’s change as well,” Riemer said.
He explained that the change makes investing in cybersecurity more attractive for investors, which in turn helps to grow cybersecurity companies in the area.
The PHED committee recommended approval by the full council; after a unanimous roll call vote, the proposal was passed.