ST. MARYS, Ga. -

To the surprise of county, state and federal officials, St. Marys City Council voted Monday night to withdraw from any agreements that involve relocating the city's airport.

Three council members voted to abandon efforts to move the airport away from Naval Station Kings Bay; one voted against the measure, one member abstained and one was absent.

A process of choosing a new site for a Camden County airport began nearly four years ago after the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to pay 90 percent of the costs of relocating the airport because it is being done at the request of the Navy, which believes that operating the current civil aviation facility less than one mile from Kings Bay's property is a security threat.

The airport was closed for 90 days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and has operated under some flight restrictions ever since.

Georgia's Department of Community Affairs has also assisted in the effort to find a site for a new Camden County airport because of security concerns and because the current St. Marys Airport has no room to expand.

The leading site is approximately 27 acres between U.S. 17, Interstate 95 and Billyville Road, south of Woodbine. The property would be donated by the Sea Island Company and Georgia Power agreed to relocate power lines near the property.

The other sites being considered are along Highway 40 near Browntown and off I-95 near Exit 7.

After nearly two years of study, Reynolds, Smith and Hills' report on alternate airport sites is scheduled to be delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration later this week.

After Monday night's vote, Capt. Mike McKinnon, commander of Kings Bay, said he was disappointed the council chose to act without all the information on the table.

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