Taft Airport Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan Doesn't Matter to City

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
City has right to decide airport issues
By Doug Keeler
The Taft (CA) Midway Driller

It’s up to Taft to decide the land use issues within the city limits-even when it involves the airport, which is owned by Kern County. That’s the opinion from the Kern County Counsel’s office on the Kern County Department of Airports objections to a proposed housing development on East Center Street.

Assistant County Counsel Stephen Schuett sent a letter to Bob Hampton, chairman of the West Side Development Co. LLC, the developer of the land stating that the county doesn’t have jurisdiction inside the city when it comes to land use issues.

“I want to confirm that is our opinion that the County does not have the right to control land use issues within the incorporated area of any city,” Schuett wrote Hampton in a letter dated July 8. “The county’s jurisdiction is only within the unincorporated area.”

Schuett’s letter to Hampton came at the request of Fourth District Supervisor Ray Watson.

West Side Development Co. announced plans to build a $6 million development on the 100 block of East Center Street.

The firm submitted plans to the city to build 31 homes with sale prices around $200,000.

When Kern County authorities reviewed the plan, they responded with a flurry of last minute objections.

Both Jack Goatcher, director of operations for the county airport department, and County Planner Ted James said the proposed development was not compatible with the Taft Airport.

The new development is located in an area under take off and landing zones, James and Goatcher said, and presented a safety hazard to anyone purchasing a home in the development.

Those objections prompted protests from Hampton and some city officials, who said the objections were without merit.

City Councilman Dave Noerr has researched the issue and said the county objections shouldn’t stand in the way of the development.

He said the lone runway in use at the airport is for takeoffs to the east and landings from the east – in both cases away from the proposed development.

The county objections have also prompted Mayor Cliff Thompson to call for a moratorium on new houses on the 100 block of Center Street, where several Habitats for Humanity homes are under construction and another one is planned.

Thompson said no one should move into the area until the safety questions are resolved.

Schuett’s letter said the city has the power to amend, update and implement the plan.

The county and state do have the power to review it, Schuett wrote.

The Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, or ALUCP, that county officials are citing as the reason for objecting to the new homes, does allow for prohibited uses to be changed either “by airport-specific policies or decision of local governing body with appropriate findings based on evidence in record.”

Dave Noerr, who has been working on the issue, said Schuett’s letter is being studied to see what the city’s options are.

Noerr has said repeatedly that the airport and the new homes can safely coexist.