Houston Airport System Looks at New Business Opportunities

Ellington Field development and hay bailing are just two activities the Houston Airport System will be concentrating on in the coming years. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports .

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The Houston Airport System has been expanding and in the coming years Director Richard Vacar says some of it's focus will turn to Ellington Field.

"The railroad has agreed not to condemn the property for a ten year period so our objective will be to try to make the property available for uses before the end of that time. Presumably if that's the case it won't be worth condemning because it'll be too expensive some day in the future."

When the north runway was built at Bush Airport, many neighborhoods complained about the noise. Noise will be an on-going issue as the airport continues to expand. Vacar says the airport system is going to need help from the city to prevent development so close to where runways are being built.

"There's a state statute that allows the city through the city itself or in its extraterritorial jurisdiction to pass an ordinance that would preclude development for incompatible land uses. There's already an ordinance that covers heights which means that you can't build something that's a hazard to flight safety. We already do that, this would simply add land use development, largely for residential uses."

On the revenue side, the Houston Airports may be getting into the hay bailing business. There's a lot of land to mow at Bush, Ellington and the old West Airport site in Katy. Vacar says they've been trying it out for a couple of months.

"If you fully develop all the hay opportunities, it's potentially a $4 million a year business. Now it's going to take a while there and we have things to do. The beauty is that we have to cut the grass anyway, we might as well get something for it. Particularly in an area that's had a hay shortage because of drought, we actually provide another public service."

Vacar says they may be looking to contract out the operation in the near future. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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