Saturday, April 22, 2006
Housing near airport up in air
The San Bernardino (CA) Sun
REDLANDS – A decision on whether to allow a housing development some fear could encroach on Redlands Municipal Airport has been postponed until June. The 81-home subdivision, which would be between San Bernardino and Pioneer avenues southwest of the airport, is proposed by Walton Development. It has been a source of contention in the city for almost three years because many object to building houses near the airport. “History shows us the proposed Walton project is too close,” said retired airline captain Eric Paul. “Airports always start in remote areas, but civilization finds them.”
On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to postpone discussion of the Walton project to June 30. The delay will give the Airport Advisory Board more time to work with consultant Coffman and Associates and finish the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan.
Redlands Municipal Airport is a general aviation facility, mostly used by single-engine aircraft. It operates 24 hours a day. An occasional small jet will land there perhaps 10 times a year, an official said.
Revisions to the Airport Master Plan in 2003 allow the development, but airport officials have asked the council to limit housing, citing a concern that noise complaints from new residents could restrict airport use.
Developer Everett Hughes said the closest home would be 2,000 feet away from the airport and notice of the airport’s presence would be included on deeds for the homes.
“We’re concerned that they delayed us because we have millions of dollars invested that we can’t utilize because of the delays,” he said.
Hughes added that he is confident the consultant and federal agencies will establish an appropriately placed airport boundary that developers cannot cross, which will allow development to proceed.
Councilman Gilberto Gil said he empathizes with Walton Development.
“How can you establish the General Plan and tell developers where we can have residential and then when they jump through the hoops, you say there’s another regulation to add in here,” Gil said.
Councilman Mick Gallagher said the airport is a major asset to the community and it’s important to take every step to ensure its survival.
“That’s where the city is going to grow, and whether or not it affects the airport is a key thing,” he said. “It’s a matter of making sure that we don’t have any problems in the future.”
The Airport Advisory Board will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Police Annex, 30 Cajon St., to discuss the Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan.