The construction of a cargo airport in East Union Township would be a big boon to the real estate business and would have a major positive impact on the economy in the northern part of Schuylkill County.

That was the testimony of a real estate broker and appraiser at the resumed hearing before the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board Thursday evening at the courthouse in Pottsville.

Stanley Komosinsky painted the rosy picture as he testified on behalf of Gladstone Partners, LPC, of Pittsburgh, who have filed an application with the county zoning hearing board, seeking a special exception from the county's zoning ordinance in East Union Township to construct an International Cargo Airport, accessory facilities and a business park on land located mostly in East Union Township, Schuylkill County, and partly in Hazle Township, Luzerne County.

The realtor said that since the airport project was made public, real estate value in East Union Township and the northern part of the county have dramatically increased.

The proposed airport would create approximately 4,500 jobs, most of them exceed the minimum wage scale, and create a demand for housing. It was testified there would be technical jobs with pays ranging more than $50,000 per year.

Komosinsky also testified if the airport was built and operational, the taxes realized from real estate in Schuylkill County would be $9,066,464; East Union Township, $1,854,160; and school districts in the area, $23,243.598.

Michael Marsicano, Hazleton, a principal owner of the project which has been his long-standing dream, gave testimony on the air traffic. He is a retired commercial airline pilot and also operated helicopters in the area while he was a state trooper.

He testified many of the problems concerning noise, air traffic and disruption of television signals would be regulated by the FAA, which would first make an evaluation of the air traffic by computer diagrams.

Before issuing a license the federal agency would set regulations, which would have to be followed.

He gave his personal opinion on noise level.

He claimed commercial airlines, when taking off, do it on a gradual scale for the comfort of its passengers but a cargo plane takes a shorter time to be airborne and makes a much steeper climb. This reduces the noise level heard on the ground. The FAA will design the take off and landing procedures, which would include many restrictions.

Questions raised

The objectors to the proposed airport questioned Komosinsky on how he acquired the statistics and why he didn't include commercial impacts since he said his analysis was based on residential homes.

They also wanted to know if he made a study to see how much of the real estate increase was because of improvements to properties.

They questioned Marsicano about the impact it would have on television signals now received in homes in the area from a cable server; how many planes would be landing daily; how many buildings were to be constructed; and if the plan received approval, what it would cost.

They also asked questions about access roads and the impact of ground traffic.

To most of the questions he reported it was not his field of expertise.

More hearings are scheduled in the future.

Gladstone filed its application in July 2009.

There have been court battles without success to have the county zoning board disqualified from holding the hearings on the application as East Union Township, which formed its own zoning hearing board after the application was filed, wanted its board to make the decision.