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‘Something doesn’t smell right’ | Mayor questions FAA decision requiring trash contractor to vacate Hawkins Field

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba sounded off Monday about the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to tell a trash contractor that it must leave Hawkins Field “as expeditiously as possible.”

Recently, WLBT learned that FAA sent a letter to the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority telling the agency it had reviewed its lease with Richard’s Disposal, and that the firm’s proposed use of the property is incompatible with airport use.

At his press conference Monday, Lumumba said FAA doesn’t have the authority to stop the lease between Richard’s and JMAA from going forward. He also said FAA previously gave Richard the authority to park there.

“There is actually contradictory correspondence between the FAA and the airport that talks about garbage trucks, talks about them being parked there, gives a provisional approval over it, only for there to be a reversal of course,” he said. “What that suggests to me is that there is something... something that doesn’t smell right, and we ain’t talking about the garbage trucks.”

Watch the mayor’s full press conference below.

3 On Your Side submitted an open record request for all letters and email correspondence between FAA and JMAA regarding the housing of Richard’s Disposal at Hawkins Field on May 4.

As of May 16, that request has not been filled, per state statute.

JMAA spokeswoman LSherie Dean said on Monday that she “just saw” our request in her emails. “I will gather the information and submit (it) to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

Richard’s has been parking at Hawkins, a general aviation airport since late March. It moved into the city that month in preparation for taking over residential trash collections on April 1.

On March 29, JMAA submitted a “non-aeronautical lease for FAA review” to allow the New Orleans-based Richard’s to use hangar and apron space on a month-to-month basis.

A little less than a month later, on April 26, JMAA was notified that Richard’s would have to leave the site, citing the impact the company’s garbage trucks could have on airport operations.

“These trucks pose a wildlife attractant due to the nature of the garbage residue and odor,” the feds wrote. “Airport sponsors should maintain an appropriate environment for the safe and efficient operation of aircraft, which entails mitigating wildlife strike hazards by fencing, modifying the landscape in order to deter wildlife, or removing land uses that attract or sustain wildlife populations.”

The letter was delivered to JMAA the same day Dean said FAA “does not officially offer approval of these types of business relationships but acts as an advisor about them.”

The mayor told reporters he did not know if the company was making plans to relocate.

“I am not a vested party in any company,” Lumumba said. “So they have to figure that out. I think that there are some options available.”

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