Traverse City News and Events

Public Input Sought On Airport Becoming Authority

By Beth Milligan | Dec. 6, 2019

Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, which own Cherry Capital Airport, and governing body Northwestern Regional Airport Commission (NRAC) are seeking public input on the possibility of the airport becoming an independent airport authority.

Three public input sessions will be held to collect resident feedback on the possible governance restructuring next week: 

December 10, 1pm to 3pm
NRAC Administrative Office (second floor of Cherry Capital Airport)
727 Fly Don't Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686

December 10, 6pm to 8pm
NRAC Administrative Office (second floor of Cherry Capital Airport)
727 Fly Don't Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686

December 11, 8am to 10am
Grand Traverse County Governmental Center
400 Boardman Avenue
Traverse City, MI 49684

NRAC members voted unanimously last month to ask Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County to approve the transition to an airport authority. According to consulting group Steven Baldwin Associates, the restructuring would give the airport greater autonomy and nimbleness in operations and decision-making, including being able to buy and sell property, control its own zoning, better focus on airport business priorities, and set standards for governing board members, including establishing a criteria of expertise and a process for removing members if necessary.

Under the airport’s existing commission governance structure, the NRAC must get approval from both Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties before making many of those decisions, and can’t remove board members short of an intervention from the governor. Only 12 percent of airports in Michigan are run as a commission model, according to the consultant’s report; a majority are county-run, while nearly a third are structured as authorities. Those include Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Bishop International Airport, and Manistee County-Blacker Airport, among others.

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