California isn’t the only state where money reins instead of safety around airports – read this article on the proposal in N.C.
Southern Pines board OKs apartments near airport runway
By Michael Zennie
The Fayetteville (NC) Observer
SOUTHERN PINES – Tyler’s Ridge at Sandhills, a development that would build more than 200 apartments and 64,000 square feet of office and retail space between the Moore County Airport and Sandhills Community College, is back on the town agenda.
After long hours of contentious debates and hearings, including one 7 1/2-hour meeting, Wisconsin developer Jim O’Malley withdrew the project in April. He made the decision after Councilman Chris Smithson pointed out that the application did not, technically, conform to the town’s ordinance.
O’Malley resubmitted the plan May 26 with several technical changes so it would meet the town’s development regulations. On Thursday night, after another four hours of public hearings, the plan received a unanimous recommendation from the Planning Board.
The last time the project went to the board, five of the seven members voted against it. The project is proposed for 46 acres along N.C. 22.
The revised plan reduces the number of apartments from 232 to 216 and adds lots for three single-family homes on the property. The latter is a nod to the technical requirements of the planned development zoning for the property. The lack of single-family homes derailed the project the first time.
At Thursday night’s public hearing, the arguments against the revamped project were the same as before. The airport authority issued a statement opposing the project, saying development near the approach to one of the runways could be potentially dangerous.
Several pilots also spoke against the development. The apartments won’t be in the hazard zone for the airport, but they will be just on the edge of the area, and subjected to the noise of plane take-offs and landings.
“The point is, they want to put 300 to 500 people next to an airport and that is a very bad idea,” said James Mirman, a pilot and Pinehurst resident.
Mirman, a retired aviation lawyer, led the opposition on safety grounds.
Robert Hayter, the project’s landscape architect, compared the development to growth around Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro. Hayter pointed to significant developments that bring thousands of people into the hazard zones of the Greensboro airport every day.
The planning board voted 5-0 to recommend the project move forward to the Town Council.
Chairman John McInerney said he was tired of fighting the project. And while he didn’t think it was a good idea to put an apartment complex so near the approach path of a runway, the development seemed to conform to the town’s ordinances.
“Besides,” he said. “The Town Council is going to pass it anyway.”
Calpilots Editor’s Note: This is exactly the scenario where inappropriate development around an airport will eventually lead to pointing at the airport as the problem – can you say “Santa Monica”????