Councilvotes to postpone airport plan adoption

Published on Thu, Aug 31, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Council votes to postpone airport plan adoption

By Tara Nelson

Adoption of the city of Blaine’s Airport Master Plan was delayed after city council members voted to offset the decision by at least another week.

The plan is one of the three alternatives the city council is examining in their decision as to whether the Blaine’s current airport should continue to operate as a municipal function.

At an August 28 meeting, council members voted 4-3 to postpone the decision on adopting the airport commission’s final plan until the release of a second study that examines the feasibility of other alternative uses for the airport. That plan is scheduled for review on September 5.

Council member Jason Overstreet motioned to postpone any action on the plan until the council has made an official decision as to the expansion of the airport.

“This doesn’t speak to the quality of the plan, it speaks to the timing,” he said.

Council member John Liebert agreed. He said while he thought it was a good plan, he seconded the motion, adding that he thought it would send the wrong message to the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the community of Blaine.

“It’s not meant to dis any of those people who worked so hard on this master plan,” he said.

In a prior meeting, Mark Napier, a consultant with W&H Pacific hired by the city to draft the plan, had warned council members that while there were no obligatory consequences for merely approving the plan, not doing so could jeopardize receiving legislative funding for the 2007 fiscal year, which begins in October.

Liebert argued that even if the council waits until September 5, there would still be adequate time to apply for federal and state grants.
“We still have time after the alternative land use committee report comes in to go after that October funding,” he said. “But by taking a step tonight to fully adopt the master plan prior to the other half of the study I thought would send a bad message to the community.”
Blaine mayor Mike Myers said disagreed with the council’s decision.
“I think that’s a bad decision,” he said. “A community without a plan for an airport is not a good community. This is a good master plan. It’s wrong to disapprove it and it’s wrong to postpone it.”

City council member Charlie Hawkins agreed, adding he thought some members of the community were polarizing the issue for political gain.

“If we do go ahead with the airport, we need to start as soon as we can to get the process going,” Hawkins said. “If we stall around, we’re going to miss funding periods that are critical.

“It seems to me they’re trying to make two separate issues out of it. It’s a good plan and we should approve it so if we do approve the airport expansion, we’ll have something to go with right away.”

The plan calls for expanding the airport to accommodate more business-type, twin-turbine aircraft, otherwise known as a B-II type aircraft, in an effort to encourage growth in the business community.
The current airport capacity allows A-1, or small single-engine planes and is not useable during adverse weather conditions.

The plan also calls for increasing runway length from 2,500 feet to 3,200 feet, constructing additional hangars and moving the entire runway south.

Airport commission chair Doug Fenton said the goal of the expansion is to encourage business people who fly planes to move their business here.

A public hearing for the alternative land uses committee report is scheduled for 7 p.m. September 18 at the Blaine senior center. For more information, call 332-8311.