Middleton Airport expansion opponents protest at city hall

MIDDLETON (WKOW) — City of Middleton officials say they’re not close to deciding whether or not to expand the Middleton Municipal Airport, but opponents of the plan gathered in front of city hall Tuesday night to let local leaders know they’re serious about stopping it.

“It’s a matter of trying to bring awareness to the city as a whole because they don’t seem to be aware,” said Steven Ziegler, a local resident.

Ziegler and about two dozen others brought signs and chants to downtown Middleton to protest against the potential expansion plan.

The city has paid a consultant to examine if it needs to expand the airport. That may include making runways longer and adding new hangars, but the consultants are looking at many potential expansion options. In August, City Planning and Zoning Administrator Mark Orpitz told 27 News that there could also be a no-build option as well.

Some of the expansion options could encroach on private land but Mayor Gurdip Brar told 27 News that if an expansion ends up being necessary, they wouldn’t force anyone to sell their land.

But Ziegler, who says his land and family farm is in the crossfire, isn’t so sure.

“That’s pretty scary because I’m not interested in moving,” he said. “Our land and our quality of life is, I feel, in jeopardy.”

Brar said he’s not leaning one way or the other yet, and wants his decision to be data driven.

“Nothing is decided as of now and there’s no overwhelming data to support that this should be expanding,” he said.

He pointed to a recent study that showed 93 percent of airport users don’t want a change.

If data presented in the consultant’s master plan does point to the airport needing to expand, Brar expects they’ll let the voters decide.

“This is a democratic system,” he said. “Everyone should have their say because it affects the quality of their life.”

Ziegler said he hopes Tuesday’s protest will show city leaders that citizens should be able to give input now, before the master plan is officially drafted.

“The citizens have had enough of this airport expansion without public input,” he said. “We need public input.”

The master plan’s completion has been delayed a bit, and Brar said he thinks it could be finished by the middle of 2020.

You can find more information about the city’s processhere.

Ziegler said the group that showed up Tuesday is not associated with anyone, but there is an official group that has formed in opposition to the expansion probe. You can find more information about their positionhere.

More at WKOW 27 News

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