Redlands Municipal Airport- Encroachment Approved

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Homes OK’d by airport
Redlands project to total 81 houses
By Stacia Glenn
The San Bernardino (CA) Sun

REDLANDS – New neighbors – dozens of them – have been given the green light to set up house 2,000 feet from the Redlands Municipal Airport. After three years of planning adjustments and candid protests from airport officials and experts, the City Council approved the 81-home Walton development on Tuesday, with Mayor Jon Harrison and Councilman Mick Gallagher voting against the project. Some council members said they could find no reason to reject the Walton project.

“It seems like co-existing. We are capable of having it out there,” said Councilman Gilberto Gil. “In all fairness, we have not made the argument against the development.”.

The houses will be built between San Bernardino and Pioneer avenues just southwest of the airport.

Eric Fraser, a 39-year-old Redlands resident who runs a charter company out of the airport, said he’s bothered that the council seemed to ignore experts who “testified about the incompatibility of residential development in close proximity to an airport.”.

Editor’s Note: CALPILOTS has witnessed this bad planning behavior time and again. Then, guess what?? Problems will start to rise concerning noise and safety. Then, the people will have the names of those who approved this to turn to.

“It may not kill the airport, but it’s the next step to make that happen,” Fraser said as he stood Wednesday outside his Hughes 500 helicopter.

A decision on whether to allow developer Everett Hughes to proceed was put off in April to allow consultant Coffman and Associates to further study the issue and finish the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, which was adjusted in 2003 to allow for construction of the nearby sports park.

The report is still not complete, but the consultants provided a general assessment of how the housing project could impact the airport and ways to mitigate it. One suggestion included moving the helipad to the north or southeast to reduce noise levels for incoming residents and minimize the number of aircraft flying near the homes.

Relocating the helipad to the southeast is the preferred option, Community Development Director Jeff Shaw said, but the city does not own that property.

It is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $1 million to relocate the helipad. The developer would not be responsible for this expense.

“It’s akin to allowing golf carts on the freeway,” said Eric Paul, a retired airline captain who argued that moving the helipad would be dangerous because helicopters and small aircraft patterns would then cross, compromising the safety of all involved parties.

Gallagher said he voted against the Walton tract because he does not believe the airport has reached its full potential and should not be stymied by encroaching development.

Professionals seem to agree.

“Coffman Associates’ experience is that helicopter traffic patterns and new residential homes do not co-exist very well,” reads the airport’s Comprehensive Land Use Review Plan.

The consultants also point out that several local aviation changes are likely to impact Redlands Municipal Airport, including the pending closure of Rialto Municipal Airport. More than 225 aircraft are based in Rialto, and many are expected to relocate to Redlands because it is open to general aviation.

There are no available hangars at this time, officials said, but city officials are at expansion.

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