Truckee Tahoe Airport

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Airport wants to finalize land purchases
By David Bunker
The Sierra Sun, Truckee (CA)

The Truckee Tahoe Airport District wants to acquire some 30 acres of land near its crosswind runway by finalizing months-long land negotiations with its neighbor. Purchasing the property from the Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency would be the final major action in a plan that set out to acquire all of the land that’s been federally designated as a runway protection zone around the airport.

But the Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency, which uses the land in question to dispose of wastewater, is not in a hurry to part with the approximately 30 acres.

“We want to own the land because it can be useful to us and it is a buffer to us,” said Craig Woods, sanitation agency general manager.

The airport should buy the land because the property has been rendered undevelopable by runway activity and the airport has federal funds available for the purchase, said airport General Manager Dave Gotschall.

“Effectively, the land has been taken from them because they can’t do anything with the land anyway,” Gotschall said.

The federal designation on land surrounding the airport’s runways gives the airport authority over the use of the land no matter who owns the property, said Airport Board President Michael Golden.

“If it is in the [Runway Protection Zone] we control the property,” Golden said. “We call the shots on what can and cannot be done there.”

Woods said the sanitation agency had initially asked for a land swap from the airport district, and when those discussions “hit a brick wall” the agency has been waiting for an offer from the airport.

Woods said he knows the issues surrounding the runway land will be resolved “no matter how long it takes.”

The airport has a history of purchasing land to prevent development around its boundaries since development and airport activity are often conflicting uses. That policy, airport officials say, has not changed.

“Our policy is if there is land adjacent to the airport … we have gone after land to aggregate the size of the airport and keep it as open space and prevent housing,” said Golden. “That has been our desire as an airport to scoop up land and preserve it as open space.”