City trimming trees to clear flight path

Published on Thu, Mar 20, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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City trimming trees to clear flight path

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

Within the next month, the city hopes to begin the process of trimming, and in some cases cutting, trees that are encroaching into airspace.

At a March 11 meeting at city hall, several affected property owners met with city manager Gary Tomsic and airport commission chairman Doug Fenton to discuss the trees and just how much needs to be cut.

According to FAA regulations, and a city ordinance, the flight path must be clear and undisturbed, and there are currently multiple trees in the way of the flight path. �When planes are coming in after dark, they really don�t realize how close they are,� Fenton said. �We have the bare minimum of runway and the trees on the ends of the runway make it that much more minimal.�

Off either end of the airport, Tomsic said, a 20:1 slope is required, and any trees above that slope will need to be trimmed. �I think the 20:1 slope area defines the parameters we have defined by city ordinance and consistent with FAA regulations,� Fenton said.

A total of 12 affected properties were named by the city, many of them situated on B, C and D streets. �We appreciate you taking the time to talk about the trees in your neighborhood,� Tomsic said. �We recognize these are issues of great concern particularly to owners of property.�

The trees, some of which encroach as much as 70 feet into the flight path, were recently measured by public works using triangulation. �Our intent is to take care of the trees of the highest risk first. We want to deal with those obstructions first and then deal with lesser obstructions,� Tomsic said. �Hopefully we�ll get to the top priorities this spring. Hopefully in April.�

Only four of the 12 properties named were represented at the meeting, and all were willing to allow their trees to be trimmed. However, they did have some concerns, including just who would pay for it. �It�s at the city�s expense,� Tomsic said. �You are not expected to pay for it.�

Tomsic said an arborist would most likely be hired to do the work. �We are going to encourage whoever does this job to comply best with your wishes,� he said. �We are bound to make this as easy for everybody as we can. We don�t want to fight with anyone or to cause problems.�

A relative of an affected property owner, was concerned about the welfare of birds, specifically eagles, nesting in the trees. �I think the birds are entitled to fly, just the same as you are,� he said.

Tomsic asked for suggestions about the birds, and some said to wait until after the nesting period. �The trees are soon going to grow, and with each foot they grow, it�s another foot in the encroaching area,� Tomsic said. �But we will accommodate you the best we can.�

Besides the issues of birds, the issue of the federal government was also brought up. Apparently vacant land owned by Doris Bobblink, and still on record with the city, has been sold to the federal government. �That�s all owned by customs now,� property owner Gerald Bladies said, laughing. �You�ll have to talk to the feds now.�

Others were concerned with the appearance of their trees after trimming, but Tomsic said the city was prepared to plant a new, smaller tree if an owner would prefer the tree to come out totally. �I would prefer to have them completely removed and replaced with a smaller tree,� property owner Jeanette Peterson said.

Some property owners inquired about the flight path itself, wanting to know which path, either over homes or the truck route, pilots should use when landing and taking off. �It�s still the published preferred method,� Tomsic said about flying over the truck route. But he noted that out-of-town pilots would probably go over the homes and not the road.

Public works will measure the trees once more before final details are established. And then property owners will be notified about trimming times.

This area does not include property at the south end of the airport owned by two families who are currently battling the city and airport plan calling for the cutting of their trees.