NAPLES, Fla. — The Southwest Florida population continues to grow and noise complaints from nearby neighborhoods about the flight traffic has the Naples Airport considering relocation.
In September, the Collier County Board of Commissioners approved a study to be conducted that will determine the benefits and disadvantages.
Zachary Burch, Senior Communications Manager for the Naples Airport, said the determining factor comes down to the economic impact a move could have and if they can afford to move from their 700-acre site.
"This was built way out in the swamp where nobody was ever going to want to live on the east side of the Gordon River," said Burch. "Obviously, over the last eight decades, that has changed considerably, and we are essentially, completely, surrounded by residential development."
According to Burch, the current weight limit for aircraft is 75,000 pounds on the airport's runways. However, the opportunity to rebuild somewhere new could bring in larger aircrafts, but finding space will be an issue.
"A substantial portion of this county is in permanent conservation from state and national parks, so that does limit a lot of our ability to look at a lot of those places further out," said Burch.
Burch said if a move were to happen, the airport would have to go east because of the lack of green space in the city.
Even with a voluntary curfew from 10 P.M. until 7 A.M., neighbors of the airport tell Fox 4 they hear aircrafts throughout the night. However, Burch told Fox 4, the airport has reported 98.7% curfew compliance and has invested over $10 million in noise programs since 2000.
"Noise is always a concern with airports in general, including ours, so that was one potential opportunity to look for a place where we could minimize, reduce, or potentially eliminate those noise concerns," said Burch.
Burch also says the airport has a steep economic impact on the area, supporting over 5,400 local jobs.
"Whatever the outcome is, we want to ensure that it remains that economic driver," said Burch. "That it remains that engine that helps to propel our economy, certainly we don't do it alone, but it's something that's important."
Burch said the study could take from six to nine months to conduct, but the area would not see the impacts of that study for at least a couple of years.