By Dean Narciso
Worthington's legal consultant called a study of Don Scott Field by Ohio State University consultants incomplete and "fatally flawed" and recommended that the university conduct a more thorough environmental-impact study before it considers airport expansion.
David W. Zoll cited three main errors in the university's environmental-assessment report released this year.
The study, conducted for OSU by DLZ and Wyle Labs, understated the noise impact that doubling the airport's north runway would cause, exaggerated the angle at which airplanes take off and didn't provide realistic growth predictions, Zoll told the Worthington City Council.
The criticism went unanswered by William A. Baeslack, OSU's dean of the College of Engineering, who said an airport advisory committee meeting will further explore the issue.
That meeting will occur at 2 p.m. Thursday at Don Scott Field. A
public forum will run from 5 to 8 that night at Wright Elementary School, 2335 W. Case Rd.
"I have complete confidence that we hired nationally recognized consultants . . . quality people," Baeslack said.
For the past year, the council has heard concerns from residents that OSU's plans to extend the runway will create more jet traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
Baeslack has said OSU is aware of the concerns and is willing to listen to all sides before submitting a final plan to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has the authority to approve the project.
The FAA can either rule that the expansion would create no significant impact and allow it to proceed or, if noise levels from the project are proved to be 1.5 decibels greater than they currently are, require a more comprehensive study.
Baeslack told the council that he likely would be ready to make a recommendation to OSU's Board of Trustees in February.
Zoll said that several aircraft based at the airport were not included in OSU's study and that OSU's consultant incorrectly stated that seven classes of aircraft would retire.
"This understates the noise impact," Zoll told the council.
Much of the discussion dealt with the altitude at which planes leave the airport. Zoll told the council that Port Columbus requires a 3,000-foot "floor" above which planes cannot fly before leaving central Ohio airspace. OSU's consultants predicted in a computer model that planes at Don Scott routinely would fly higher than that, Zoll said.
Councilman Doug Holmes asked Zoll why OSU's consultants would ignore such a requirement if it were widely known, to which Zoll responded, "I don't know."
"We can come up with a million questions," Holmes said. "But we need to come up with some answers."
Zoll said a 10 percent compounded annual-growth rate is standard for many airports the size of Don Scott. Yet, OSU's consultants predicted a 2.2 percent growth rate.
OSU has paid its consultants about $300,000 to date; Worthington allocated roughly $40,000 for Zoll and his consultants, only half of which they have spent, Zoll said.
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