Updated plan recommended for Airpark East development

MARSHALL – Having an official long-term plan will be key for future commercial development near Marshall’s airport, members of the Marshall Airport Commission agreed Tuesday. After discussing the results of a recent meeting with representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and MnDOT Aeronautics, commission members voted to recommend forming such a plan to the Marshall City Council.

On Tuesday, Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson went through the outcome of a February meeting about plans to build production facilities for Action Manufacturing at Marshall’s Airpark East expansion. The FAA and MnDOT had said the manufacturing business wasn’t directly related to aviation and therefore wasn’t appropriate close to the airpark taxiways. The decision meant the city had to scrap a business subsidy agreement with Action Manufacturing and draft a new agreement for a location in the Marshall industrial park.

“We were a little disappointed,” Olson said of the FAA’s decision. At the same time, he said, city officials learned a lot from the experience.

One of the things they learned was that there could sometimes be a fine distinction between businesses deemed appropriate and inappropriate for having taxiway access. For example, Olson said, a business that manufactures airplanes would be acceptable, because it requires a runway to test and distribute its products. But a facility that makes parachutes for the same airplanes would not be considered appropriate. Similarly, a business that installs avionics systems in airplanes could be allowed next to a taxiway but a business that makes avionics systems couldn’t.

Olson said one way the Marshall airport could help solve these kinds of land-use questions in the future would be through an updated Airport Layout Plan. The layout plan would estimate the amount of space the airport would need for facilities and runways as much as 50 years into the future. In turn, having that plan would also make it easier to determine where commercial developments would be allowed.

“In order for us to say that, we have to have a plan,” Olson said. The updated layout plan could be completed with a combination of FAA discretionary funding and local funding, he said. He recommended the city request a proposal from engineering firm TKDA to update the plan.

Commissioners voted to recommend updating the layout plan to the Marshall City Council.