Federal funds will cover most of the cost, though the Paulding County Airport Authority’s contribution will be almost $15,000. It will begin next week and take six to nine months to complete.
Airport director Blake Swafford told authority members the study for which it was paying was extremely detailed.
“There has been a massive amount of input put into this scope of this [assessment],” he said.
The new study was ordered after a group of Paulding residents maintained the Federal Aviation Administration's environmental review was not detailed enough for an airport set to play host to commercial flights.
Residents asked a federal appeals court in November to declare illegal the agency's September approval of taxiway and runway safety area projects, and agreed to a settlement which ended the lawsuit but required a new assessment.
Sue Wilkins, who was part of the group filing the lawsuit, said after last week's meeting the assessment’s price tag did not surprise her because the agreement called for a 10-year projection of commercialization impacts on the environment around the rural west Paulding facility.
Swafford also defended the use of the engineering firm Michael Baker International for the assessment.
Swafford and the authority had been criticized for Baker’s involvement because Swafford worked for a company in the late 1990s that Baker later bought.
However, he said the authority hired Baker in 2010 on a five-year consulting contract which included environmental assessments.
“Michael Baker is extremely qualified to do this. They do environmental assessments at airports all over Georgia and [the] eastern side of the United States,” he said.“I’m happy the airport is being as realistic about the price as they are,” she said.