Bedford County creating new airport district after LU pushes for expansion

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BEDFORD Co., Va. (WDBJ7) -- Plans to expand a Bedford County airport may soon be moving forward.

The planning commission is creating an airport district, a first for the county which has two airports. One at Smith Mountain Lake, and the other in the New London community. “Both airports are very rural," explained Gregg Zody, the director of community development

Just weeks ago, Zody was tasked with creating a sort of framework for airports in the county. “My struggle is trying to balance the rights and wishes of the current property owners to continue enjoying their property and yet try to accommodate Liberty University’s desires," said Zody.

Liberty University submitted a rezoning request back in March.

Zody says they initially expressed interest in extending and expanding the runway, continuing their flight program, rebuilding structures, and selling fuel.

Zody says the new zoning district will allow LU to do that. “I think it’s reasonable to allow them to have a general business office if they want to, small scale business repair services," he said.

He said the proposal also includes the potential for car rentals and a snack bar. But, there are restrictions; like no hotels or restaurants because, Zody says, respecting the original character of the area is important. “If the airport would allow just hotels and dormitories and what not, then that would just change the character of the area," he explained.

The county is holding a public hearing Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at Jefferson Forest High School.

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