Redlands- Development Approved Close to Airport– Bad Move

Thursday, February 23, 2006
Homes OK’d near airport in Redlands
By Jacob Ogles
The San Bernardino (CA) Sun

REDLANDS – The approval of more than two dozen homes near Redlands Municipal Airport has some neighboring land owners relieved about their own plans for development, and aviators worried about safety and landing restrictions. The City Council on Tuesday approved a second phase of Ryland homes, which will add 27 houses to an existing San Bernardino Avenue subdivision.

The approval marks the first housing project given the go-ahead near the airport since the city began updating its airport master plan – and creates questions about other pending housing developments.

“It’s somewhat of a safety concern,” said Gary Van Dorst, a Redlands utilities manager handling land-use issues for the airport.

Van Dorst said he didn’t want to sensationalize the likelihood of a crash, but he also said the entire Ryland subdivision lies adjacent to the path helicopters take into the airport.

But other developers who have argued that homes and planes can co-exist in north Redlands said the Ryland approval is a sign that the council is clearly poised to allow construction and adhere to the owners’ right to build on their properties. The next project in line for a public hearing is an 81-home housing proposal from Walton Development on the same block. “I’m glad they (Ryland) were approved,” said Everett Hughes, who heads Walton Development. “I think they deserved it, and I think we do, too.”

The approval of Ryland has given Hughes renewed hope about his own plans. The council tabled his request last month and said it would not be considered until April when a study of land-use demands around the airport is scheduled for completion.

But some members of the city Airport Advisory Board said the Ryland approval does not necessarily indicate a broad endorsement of all development by the airport.

A number of aviation experts have testified to the council that no homes should be built near the airport north of San Bernardino Avenue. While fear of crashes is one reason to keep a clear flight path, the possibility that new residents would complain about jet noise and plane traffic is the greatest concern of critics.

Van Dorst said the airport officials were opposed to the first Ryland tract being approved north of San Bernardino Avenue, though it did not object to the expansion of the Ryland development to the west because it was already surrounded by homes.

John James, a Redlands planning commissioner and a former airport advisory board member, said the Walton project and other smaller proposals to the east of Ryland Homes would be more of an incursion upon the airport. Projects near the runway, he said, could compromise airspace.

Until 2001, housing development was restricted on properties by the airport in the area where Ryland Homes and Walton Development plan to build. But city officials moved the boundaries to allow a planned sports park to move forward.

Editor’s Note: Hopefully Redlands has actually checked with other communities regarding their on-going problems after allowing development too close to an airport. However, it doesn’t appear so.

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