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Fight over Bluegrass Station airport expansion could take years to settle

Adding an airport and airpark to Bluegrass Station would require the acquisition of thousands of acres of land from nearby property owners — some of whom might not want to sell.
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Adding an airport and airpark to Bluegrass Station would require the acquisition of thousands of acres of land from nearby property owners — some of whom might not want to sell.

A battle’s brewing between state lawmakers who want to build an airport at Bluegrass Station and those who say the thousands of acres needed for it would replace valuable farmland. Bluegrass Station is a nearly 800-acre military-industrial business park on the outskirts of Lexington owned by the state since 2008. Bluegrass Station Director Steve Collins said there are many reasons for the expansion.

“We’ve got a national defense need, we’ve got a state strategic and financial need, we’ve got a regional aviation and aerospace need. We’ve got a people need -- the people that currently work here, and the people that could work here.”

Collins said about 2-thousand people work at Bluegrass Station, most of them for military contractor Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors. A 2022 study by the state paints a rosy, post-airport economic picture.

“It says three to 6,000 additional jobs. You know, that's the consultants’ words, I'd rather under promise and over deliver.”

Collins said a similar project at the South Carolina Technical and Aerospace Center, in Greenville, South Carolina, is an example of what the airport and expansion could mean for Bluegrass Station. If the state pursues the project, landowners who don’t want to sell could be subject to eminent domain law.

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John McGary is a Lexington native and Navy veteran with three decades of radio, television and newspaper experience.
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