Joint Town-airport board meeting aims to clear the air | SierraSun.com

Joint Town-airport board meeting aims to clear the air

David Bunker

With a pending land-use plan that affects development in Truckee and a row of new airport hangars awaiting review, town council members and the Truckee Tahoe Airport Board have plenty to talk about Monday.That’s when the council and the board will hold a joint meeting at Town Hall to discuss the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, hangar design and possibly potential revisions to the Airport Master Plan.The master plan, adopted in 1998 and amended in 2001, has been at the center of speculation on how to reduce the projected impacts of the CLUP, which put roughly one-half of Truckee within the airport’s influence boundary. At Thursday’s airport board meeting, the directors approved a resolution that sets guidelines for updating the master plan and set a trigger for the construction of a third runway.The master plan will be reopened when the airport has operations that exceed the 2020 projection of 61,600 operations a year, or jet traffic constitutes 15 percent or more of total traffic, the resolution says. When that level is reached, the airport will also undertake measures to control the frequency and hours of airport traffic beyond what the airport already does.”We’re not even close to 2020 operations,” said Airport General Manager Dave Gotschall. “Why reopen that plate? We’ll reopen that process when it becomes necessary.” According to a town council staff report, a primary reason for reopening the master plan is to look at the necessity of having a third parallel runway in the plan that broadens CLUP projections and may inhibit operations at the Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency and the Truckee Sanitary District. A third runway would put aircraft traffic off to the east of the airport, over a largely unpopulated area, said Gotschall, adding that he sees it as a important option to lessen noise impacts to the subdivisions to the west of the airport.”I would advocate you don’t take that off the master plan because that is a real, viable option to mitigate noise,” said Gotschall.The board’s resolution said that once the runway 28 downwind operations – a pattern that takes planes over Sierra Meadows and Ponderosa Ranchos – generate over 49 percent of the noise complaints and one or more of the surrounding municipalities make a request about runway 28 noise, the airport will begin the process of adding the third parallel runway to alleviate flight training traffic over nearby subdivisions.The town and other agencies look at the land east of the airport – designated Zone B – and tie that directly to the existence of plans for a third runway in the current master plan. Zone B is a designation that restricts the building of “critical community infrastructure” unless there is no feasible alternative. The staff report indicated that the town may request that the airport district eliminate the third runway from the master plan.The airport has written letters to the Foothill Area Land Use Commission – the governing body for the CLUP – voicing its support for a community center on land donated by East West Partners, flexible standards for development of the railyard and leaving the hospital out of Zone D, which would allow for expansion. These sites have been prime concerns of the town and local agencies, who fear that important local development would be directly limited by the CLUP projections. The airport letter bolsters requests for CLUP exceptions for these sites.However, Gotschall said, the airport does not support flexibility that would allow the Alder Creek middle school to expand if necessary. The Zone D designation that cuts through the school’s land does not permit schools unless there is no feasible alternative. This designation could prevent the middle school from expanding unless it gets a site-specific exception. Large assembling of people at a community center is different because the maximum capacity would be reached at night when aircraft traffic is almost nonexistent in the mountains, said Gotschall.”The benefits far outweigh the risks to the community,” said Gotschall.At Thursday’s meeting, the airport board also voted to join in a nationwide effort to outlaw noisy stage one and stage two business jets. Stage one and two commercial jets were phased out in 2000 by federal law, but the business jets persist in operation.”When 30 percent of the aircraft fleet generates 66 percent of the noise there is something wrong,” said Gotschall.The Truckee Tahoe Airport will join with other airports to petition congress to pass a law banning the older and noisier business jets.Check it outThe joint meeting between the council and the airport board will be held in the council chambers at Town Hall on Monday, June 7, at 6 p.m.