McKinney City Manager Paul Grimes is expected to request grant funding for planning, design and improvements on the east side of McKinney National Airport.

McKinney City Council members directed Grimes to request the funding from the McKinney Economic Development Corp. and the McKinney Community Development Corp. in a 6-1 vote Feb. 20, with council member Justin Beller voting against the item.

The gist

Following the failed $200 million bond election in May 2023 that would have contributed funding for the development of a commercial terminal at the airport, city leaders are considering how city-owned land on the east side of the airport will develop.

City Council members have included maximizing the development potential of the airport in their strategic priorities since 2015, Assistant City Manager Barry Shelton said at the Feb. 20 meeting.

City officials purchased 190 acres of land on the east side of the airport in 2018, with the land earmarked for future airport development, according to city documents. The resolution approved by council members outlined a “critical need for infrastructure” on the east side of the airport in the case of any type of future development.

“Because we have not grown over there in the past or to date, there [are] a lot of needs in terms of making that site development-ready,” Shelton said of the east side of the airport.

The specifics

Shelton presented a number of potential development options that could occur on the east side of the airport.

The options included facilities that would support general aviation, commercial passenger service or a combination of both, according to the presentation.

A new taxiway on the east side of the runway, referred to as Taxiway C in the presentation, would be required to enable any development on the east side of the airport, Shelton said. Other improvements required for development of the property include underground infrastructure including water and sewer lines, as well as roadway connections, access drives and space for parking, he said.

“All of those are necessary for that property to be ready for development so when things come through the pipeline [and] the next big project comes, we have land ready for it,” Shelton said.

The cost of planning and design of improvements on the east side of the airport is estimated to be $8 million, McKinney Communications and Media Manager Denise Lessard said in an email. The proposed improvements would also be eligible for future reimbursement from the Federal Aviation Administration, and the economic and community development corporations could potentially be reimbursed for any contributions, Shelton said.

The background

As a result of the failed general obligation bond election, city officials are unable to use any kind of property tax-backed debt for the development of a commercial air service terminal at the airport for three years due to restrictions in the Texas Local Government Code, according to the presentation.

This restricts the use of both general obligation debt as well as certificates of obligation, a type of debt that does not require voter authorization, Shelton said.

Funding from Type A and Type B economic development corporations such as the McKinney Economic Development Corp. and McKinney Community Development Corp. is able to be used to construct infrastructure and improvements at McKinney National Airport, according to a news release from the city.

The creation of the McKinney Community Development Corp. was approved by McKinney voters in 1996, according to the McKinney Community Development Corp.’s website. The McKinney Economic Development Corp. was created in 1993, according to its website. The organizations receive a portion of the city’s sales taxes and direct that funding to allowed uses such as community grants.

What they’re saying

A number of people who spoke during a public comment period at the meeting shared their lack of support for the item. McKinney resident Paul Miles said while he is in support of the development of the airport, he does not support redirecting funds from the McKinney Community Development Corp. that could otherwise go to arts and culture organizations such as Chestnut Square, he said.

“I think any reallocation of funds would be detrimental,” Miles said.

Justin Beller was the only council member to vote against the item. Beller did not comment at the meeting but later stated that his vote was related to the timing of development at the airport.

“I believe that commercial service at our airport is viable and beneficial for our community but I think a 5-10 year time frame makes more sense in terms of meeting market demand, accessibility and available financing tools,” Beller said in an email.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller said he asked for the item to be added to the meeting’s agenda, noting that he supported the item because he wants the city to be prepared for any type of aviation use that may develop on the city-owned land.

“We have a general aviation airport that is about to be built out,” Fuller said. “If one of our current largest employers or any other company were to come right now, we are years away from being ready to accommodate [them] on the east side.”

Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Philips said the council has a “fiscal responsibility” to facilitate development at the airport.

“It’s the future of McKinney,” Philips said.

Learn more

For more information on McKinney National Airport, visit