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Gov. McCrory still hopes for end to fight over Charlotte Douglas airport

By Ely Portillo and Eric Frazier
elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com

It’s been more than a year since the controversy over who should run Charlotte’s airport erupted, and Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday he’s still hopeful that a solution can be found that leaves the city in charge.

“My goal is I’d prefer to continue to have the ownership underneath the city of Charlotte’s responsibility,” said McCrory, speaking to reporters at a conference Wednesday about public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure. “But at the same time I want to get the politics out of it, whether it’s city politicians or state politicians.”

McCrory said he’s been talking with Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon for months.

“We continue to have dialogue with the city. I’ve been working on it for four or five months with your mayor,” said McCrory. “We continue to have good dialogue.”

McCrory, who was Charlotte’s mayor for 14 years, was criticized by some for remaining on the sidelines during the bruising, monthslong legislative fight last year. Republican state legislators in Raleigh passed a bill to create a new, independent commission to run the airport instead of Charlotte City Council, a move the city fiercely opposed.

Although the commission was created, the city sued to block it and the commission remains powerless. The fight is tied up in court and with the Federal Aviation Administration, with no clear resolution in sight.

Robert Stolz, chairman of the commission, sent the the FAA a letter last week asking it to speed up a decision over who should run the airport, because efforts to find a compromise have stalled. “It is my opinion that we have now run out of opportunities to settle this,” he wrote.

McCrory said Wednesday that he hopes the issues can be worked out without waiting for a judge to decide.

“I hope to get it resolved because what I don’t want is for it to be resolved by the courts,” he said.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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