Over the years, the North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field has been affectionately called a "diamond in the rough." It isn’t hard to over look the former Air Force base when airports like the DFW International Airport and Love Field are within driving distance. However, with the appointment of the Joint Airport Zoning Board, the NTRA seems to be preparing for potential growth in the future.

Over the years, the North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field has been affectionately called a "diamond in the rough." It isn’t hard to over look the former Air Force base when airports like the DFW International Airport and Love Field are within driving distance. However, with the appointment of the Joint Airport Zoning Board, the NTRA seems to be preparing for potential growth in the future.


In a meeting of the Joint Airport Zoning Board, the Board elected Phil Roether as its chairman. The Board, which consists of nine members, is made up of two representatives each from the cities of Pottsboro, Sherman and Denison; two representing Grayson County; and a chairman.


Roether, who has lived in Grayson County since retirement in 1999, worked for Texas Instruments for over 30 years. There he served as vice president of operations over defense. Roether has served on many other boards since moving to the area, including being co-chair on the Grayson College Foundation, which recently raised over $300,000 toward tuition for needy students.


"This airport has the potential to be a significant economic player," said Roether, after the meeting.


The Zoning Board was established to help create an ordinance that regulates development surrounding the airport. The goal is to maintain the economic viability of the airport, while also keeping citizens safe, said Roether.


"Zoning won’t tell them what they can do with their property," said Roether. "It will tell them what they can’t do with it."


The Board will look at and make rulings regarding potential hazards around the airport. Such hazards include high towers, structures and facilities that are adversely affected by noise, high-density development, and things that attract birds, such as landfills.


"You wouldn’t want a church right at the end of the runway," said Roether.


Roether sees the airport as a potential economic giant for the region. Part of the airport’s potential lies within its past. In its past life as Perrin Air Force Base, the airport was designed with two parallel runways. NTRA is the only airport with this feature between Dallas and Oklahoma City, said Roether. This feature allows the airport to service and accept airplanes of much larger size than other, smaller airports.


The move to zone the areas surrounding the airport come as the NTRA looks at its economic plan for the years ahead and plans for development in the future, said Bill Retz, project manager for NTRA. Retz said many airports have trouble when current progress ends up in conflict with businesses and developments that are already established.


Retz said he hopes the Zoning Board’s measures and the airport’s features can attract businesses and developments that will have a mutually-favorable relationship with the airport. The west side of the airport, for example, is suited for industrial uses, particularly those related to aircraft, said Retz.


"We are planning ahead," said Retz.