New Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board meets for the first time


Following passage of a bill establishing an independent, state-sanctioned airport authority, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority met officially for the first time on Friday, August 17.

The first order of business was to seat the board, and this was partially accomplished. The new state statute calls for the board make-up to include the following: two appointees from the City of Asheville, two from Buncombe County, two from Henderson County and one member appointed by these six.

During the transition from the Asheville Regional Airport Authority to the new board, the statute allows for carry-over of existing board members, with eligibility based upon their remaining terms. Four board members, Jeff Piccirillo (four year term) and David Hillier, Bob Roberts and Martha Thompson (two year terms) carry over to the new Authority. Because of the carry-over of existing terms, for the next two years the board will consist of three Asheville City appointees, two Buncombe County appointees, one Henderson County appointee, and a seventh member appointed by the six.

After the first two years, the makeup of the board will be set forth as defined in the new statute. Hillier, an attorney with Gum, Hillier McCroskey, P.A, began his term on the Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board in 2006, and has most recently served as chairman. Piccirillo, a long-term Asheville resident and food and beverage executive, has served on the board since 2008, most recently as secretary-treasurer. Roberts, Regional Vice-President of First Citizens Bank Trust, has served since 2010. Thompson, an executive with Progress Energy, has also served since 2010.

Additionally, Henderson County and The City of Asheville each have appointments to fill on the new board, and Henderson County seated Andrew Tate at Friday’s meeting. Tate is President and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development.

The City of Asheville’s unfilled seat will remain open until an appointment is made, at which time the seated six members will appoint a member-at-large. The City of Asheville wished to seat Mayor Terry Bellamy to the board; however, the statute does not allow for elected officials to be seated.

In relation to the establishment of an independent airport authority, David Hillier, GARAA board chairman had this to say: “It is a positive day for the airport and the region. We are forging ahead as the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority, and have many procedural details to resolve as the transition progresses. However, the effort will be worthwhile, as the organizational structure provided by the new law will enable the airport to operate more efficiently and effectively.”


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0 thoughts on “New Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board meets for the first time

    • Chuck McGrady

      The legislation creating the new authority clearly prohibited elected officials from serving on the board. However, the legislation provided for a transition for any public officials who were in the middle of their terms on the old authority board.

      Well, the mayor and the city council tried to pull a quick one by appointing the mayor to a new term beginning July 1. Hopefully, folks will recognize this for what it really is. It was just a political stunt.

      When we realized what the mayor and city council was trying to do, we simply amended the legislation to strike the provision allowing for a transition for any public officials who might serve on the board.

      There is no “illegal amendment,” and the new authority’s board and its attorney have properly interpreted the law–notwithstanding Barry Summers’ protestations.

    • bsummers

      Call it a stunt, Rep. McGrady, but they were following the letter of the law. Tim Moffitt saw that the Mayor of Asheville might get a seat on Asheville’s airport authority, (Horrors!), he had you amend the law specifically to keep her off. And you apparently told the AC-T reporter that you did it at the request of, and “to keep up good relations” with, Tim Moffitt. Like your comments on the NC Policy Watch thread, where you spoke about the water Study Committee as if you weren’t a member of it, we notice a tendency on your part to try to distance yourself from the things your more radical GOP colleague does.

      But you are in fact responsible for these things, so following that thread, do you agree with Tim’s apparent suggestion that the General Assembly should consider abolishing the City of Asheville?

    • indy499

      Illegal doesn’t mean what you think it does. Ill advised perhaps, but not illegal.

    • bsummers

      Okay, maybe we can compromise on “wildly deceitful and a violation of House procedure”. The change to explicitly exclude the Mayor was made in a “technical amendment”, which is usually reserved for typos, incorrect addresses, formula changes, etc.

      Instead they abused that prerogative to substantively change the bill from anything that was discussed or written in, simply because Tim Moffitt didn’t like the fact that the City of Asheville was following his new rules to the letter, and lawfully appointed the Mayor of Asheville to a term on the Asheville Airport Authority Board.

      As I’ve said: the political wheel will turn again, and every hypocritical stance will likely be answered with interest added, and the cycle goes on & on & on…

      And currently, while the Chief Villain is Tim Moffitt, the Chief Facilitator is Chuck McGrady.

  1. mat catastrophe

    So, Mr. McGrady, you are actually admitting that your reaction to a “political stunt” was another “political stunt” and you think your constituents, or Mr. Moffitt’s, are smart enough to see one for what it is but not the other? I think that says a lot for how you both think of the people you represent.

    But, tell me, on a scale of 1 to 10, how mortified were you and Mr. Moffitt when you realized that your oh-so-clever legislation had a loophole in it? Was there cursing? Weeping and gnashing of teeth? Or was it more of a cuddling and hugging moment? Did you comfort Mr. Moffitt with a gentle embrace and a promise, “Don’t worry, Timmy, we’ll get those goddamn hippies”?

  2. As you can see, the level of discourse of this matter does not warrant serious consideration and betrays a certain ugly impotence. Go forward, Mr. McGrady, Mr. Moffitt: The political poodles nipping at your ankles can be kicked out the second floor window at any point along the way towards doing what is right for the region.

    • sharpleycladd

      Your fealty and obsequiousness toward the currently powerful is duly noted, Mr. Peck, but it bears mentioning that Asheville built the reservoirs and Asheville built the airport, while the welfare queens out in the counties voted down bond issues and bided their time until they could simply steal stuff. “The region” you refer to is starved for infrastructure and schooling because the citizenry wouldn’t pay for either, and Asheville’s prudent investments do not belong to “the region.”

  3. Meiling Dai

    This situation demonstrates that state law supercedes city law; and for your information, federal law supercedes state law.

  4. bsummers

    From the Depression-era history of Asheville:

    “Asheville, amazingly enough, retained the highest per capita debt of any city in the country (approx. $54 million). However, the proud city officials vowed to pay every single cent of the depression bonds that the city owed. Holding to their word, and much to the chagrin of county inhabitants, creditors received their payments and Asheville held its honor.”

    So, unlike many cities and towns during the Depression, and over the protests of Buncombe County, the City of Asheville finally paid off it’s debts in 1976. And since for those 40+ years, the City wasn’t taking on more debt-financed urban renewal projects, the original architecture survived, and has now become part of why Asheville is such an attractive tourist destination, and a development-money Golden Goose. Enter the jealous folks who urged the City to welch on it’s debts a generation ago, now seeking to throw out the elected government of Asheville, so to be better able to squeeze every drop of wealth out of the community they had no part in building.

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