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A bill signed by President Donald Trump in December could one day lead to private companies taking off from and landing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

A measure that would allow Dobbins Air Reserve Base to enter into partnerships with private companies, giving them access to the base’s runway and control tower, was signed into law Tuesday.

The Marietta base already has a joint-use agreement over the runway with its neighbor, Lockheed Martin, but federal law restricts other similar agreements from being signed. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2018, which was signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, eliminates that restriction.

The provision was supported by all of Cobb’s representatives in Congress: U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and U.S. Reps. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville and David Scott, D-Atlanta.

The $700 billion legislation, in addition to authorizing funding appropriations and setting forth policies for Department of Defense programs and activities, includes language that repeals a clause in the 1989 National Defense Authorization Act that set Lockheed Martin as the sole private entity allowed to use the 10,000-foot runway at Dobbins. The base is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 94th Airlift Wing and host to thousands of Guardsmen, reservists and civilians from the Army, Navy and Marines.

Perdue called the restriction part of an “outdated law” that had “prevented the base from being utilized to its fullest potential.”

Another provision of the bill, according to Perdue, will have an effect on Dobbins’ neighbor as it calls for the order of 20 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Marietta facility.

Isakson has said the bill would also benefit Georgia’s dozen-plus military installations and lauded a 20,000-plus troop increase and 2.4 percent pay raise for service members included within it.

Col. Marty Hughes, commander of the 94th Mission Support Group, said technically the law does not designate Dobbins as joint use, but merely opens the door to such a partnership.

“That is the very first step of the marathon in allowing us to take a looksee of making Dobbins joint use,” Hughes said Friday at a joint meeting of the Cobb Legislative Delegation and Cobb Board of Commissioners. “What that bill is doing is breaking that exclusivity between Dobbins, the Air Force and Lockheed, so once we break that open then that allows us to take the real official step of looking at Dobbins becoming a joint-use runway.”

Hughes described the lengthy process that will have to take place before any agreement between Dobbins and an outside entity looking to use the runway is reached. Dobbins officials would thoroughly review any proposal that comes to them, which would include a look at the number and type of aircraft that would use the runway. Then come discussions among officials from Dobbins, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Pentagon.

“And that’s just Phase 1,” Hughes said. “We’ve not even talked about the town hall meetings that would be vital to what we’re doing with the community, the economic analysis, the environmental analysis and all of those other steps. … But again, this is a marathon, and we truly support how we can make this a win-win for the Air Force, for Cobb County and the state of Georgia.”

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(11) comments

Anonymous Commenter

Trump just opened the back door to ATL's second airport. He opened that door wide and stepped right through onto our faces. All that weight on such tiny feet. Ouch!

Concerned Citizen

The whole scenario is “ambiguous” with no defined parameters. It’s very disturbing. I can only hope and pray that rational judgment will prevail over greed and the “almighty dollar.”

Anonymous Commenter

The best forward-looking business decision made in years! This is a visionary decision that will benefit Cobb for decades into the future. Only the usual doom and gloom liberals could possibly see any negative in this.

Anonymous Commenter

Yeah right. Great for business - terrible for homeowners. What all you hard earned equity in your house disappear overnight!

Anonymous Commenter

Which begs the question, Dobbins was there long before houses were, so why did you buy there? And, if you did buy there, then you accepted the consequences of buying there. Economics 101, but people never think, they just see and buy, which is why we have higher consumer debt than any other industrialized nation.

Anonymous Commenter

As a home owner, we are fine with the limited military use. We do not want commercial use. It changes the noise level drastically.

Anonymous Commenter

If you are so concerned with noise levels, then why did you make a decision to live near an active airport/air force base? And pray tell, what in the world is "limited military use"? Sounds like something taken out of the democrat play book, like the way Johnson conducted a "limited war" in Viet Nam.

Anonymous Commenter

If I wanted to live in College Park I would have bought there. This will cause home prices to crash.

Anonymous Commenter

But you DID make a decision to buy in proximity to Dobbins, and you now complain? Why is it that people whine and cry because they make bad decisions? Man up and learn from your mistakes.

Anonymous Commenter

Everyone seems to forget there was an active duty naval base there for years which added to the noise level. Most home owners seem to be okay with it. If there will be commercial use it probably will not add more noise to the area than the now gone naval base did for decades. Opposition to this sounds like anti-Trump propaganda. That is the real hazardous noise level!

Anonymous Commenter

If Barry O'Blunder had done the same thing, all the libtards would be singing praises to him.

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