Board moves to limit airport growth
The Truckee Tahoe Airport District board has moved forward with plans to control airport use for the next 20 years by tightening restrictions for jets and improving airport safety, but some say the measures don’t go far enough.
The airport board unanimously approved the update to the master plan Monday, Oct. 2, a document that describes future airport use, design and operation.
“This [update to the master] plan is common,” said James M. Harris, an airport consultant from Arizona hired to oversee the master plan update. “The difference here is the board hasn’t made any new additions to the airport.”
Instead, the board changed the airport’s classification from B2 to C2, a Federal Aviation Association classification that affects the size of airplanes that are allowed to land, and the board approved safety measures such as replacing old structures and moving buildings.
In addition, the board maintained plans that would allow for the construction of a runway parallel to the existing runway.
Advocates of the master plan update say the change in airport classification will reduce jet traffic, give the airport more flexibility in future land use decisions and allow for the possibility of air-traffic consolidation.
“The new master plan may eliminate jet traffic,” incumbent airport board member Robert Marshall said.
In the public hearing Sept. 28, members of the public concerned about the possible expansion of safety zones the new runway may create urged the airport board to refrain from approving the plan, or to at least remove the language for a parallel runway.
“The school is planning to do projects [in the area] next year and we would appreciate some assurance that we’re not going to be prevented from doing that,” John Britto, facilities director with the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, said.
Lynne Larson, an airport board candidate, said she felt the board should wait to approve the update until further environmental studies could be done, or until the Foothills Airport Land Use Commission updates the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
“Why go forward without waiting until the commission updates the land use plan?” she said.
Neil Eskind, council for the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, said that the inclusion of a parallel runway was included in the previous airport master plan, and is approved by the land use commission.
Whether or not school district plans comply with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a document which is developed by the land use commission, will be determined when the commission reviews the application or modifies the land use plan, he said.
“Safety zones from the parallel runway would affect the land use of our property,” Stephen A. Kronick, attorney for Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Agency, said. “Consistency with the 1990 Comprehensive Land Use Plan is not a reason to believe the environmental impacts have been mitigated.”
Marshall reiterated that plans for a parallel runway have always been included in the master plan, and that by creating the parallel runway air-traffic could be consolidated to a portion of the airport that would reduce noise on the surrounding communities.
“We are trying to plan ahead, and slow airport growth down. By Federal Law any plane that can be maintained by the runways is allowed to land. In reality we are limiting the growth of this airport with the new master plan. We only have so much land out here,” Marshall said.
Marshall closed the regular board meeting with a discussion of noise abatement items.
“Noise abatement arrival and departure procedures are going to be handed out to all of the pilots that get gas at the airport, those who rent any of the hangars and it will be included on the Automatic Weather Observation System, the pilots’ radio communication system,” he said.
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