Field Of Dreams Shot Down -- Rural Airport Closed
Build it and they will complain? Tiny Culleoka, Tenn., doesn't face the same urban pressures as fast-growing Bakersfield and, ironically, that's why Harry Askey has been forced to close the private airstrip he's been using for 13 years. Askey claims that when he asked Maury County officials if an airstrip was allowed on his 80-acre property, he was told it was fine with them. "They said, 'You're in a rural area. You can do what you want to do. You can have a private strip,'" Askey told the Columbia Daily Herald. However, Askey never thought to check that assurance and it's come back to haunt him. Newcomers are trickling into the area in pursuit of a quiet country lifestyle and a neighbor recently lodged a formal complaint against the airstrip. That's when county officials determined that Askey's property was in a zone that doesn't allow airstrips. Askey's been through the local hoops but the FAA can't help even though it's a federally approved landing strip. "It's a legal airstrip from the air up, but the Zoning Board controls the ground," Askey said. "The FAA says I have to settle with them." And it would appear the majority of residents and the local mayor would prefer Askey and his friends do their flying at the local airport. "We've got our own airport down here, which is a regionally approved airport with a lot of federal and state aeronautical funds in it and local tax dollars that we are very proud of," said Maury County mayor Jim Bailey.