AIRPORTS BEWARE

Remember the relief we felt within the aviation community back in 1998 when the state of Washington passed a law requiring all communities to develop zones to protect airports from encroachment by incompatible development? Here is a big red flag, folks. You had better check what your local governments have done, because we found that the city government of Shelton feels it is above the law and has yet to fulfill this requirement.

What is more astounding is even though the Port of Shelton, which governs the Sanderson Airport, has complied and published a state-approved protective zone, the city recently gave the go ahead for the construction of a housing development inside the Port’s area. When challenged on the decision, the city merely said that since the city had no protective zone established, there was no legal basis on which to deny the construction — even though the city has had eight years and considerable urging by the state to comply with the overlay protective zone law. It causes one to speculate why it is called a “law.” We ordinary citizens are obligated to abide by the law. Why not governments?

As a means of appeasement by the city for those who objected, there was a proviso in the approval for the construction that signs would be posted and sales documents annotated with the information denoting the area as being in a noise zone. As we lose one airport a week in this country to incompatibility, how could any responsible government official be so naive?

The state’s Aviation Division and the Association of Sanderson Pilots (ASP) have formally offered any and all assistance in developing this required overlay, but the city refuses to comply, saying it will have it done by March. Of course it also said it would have it completed by December 2005. What concerns ASP is there is still nothing in place to deny any other construction site bid within the airport zone between now and the proposed completion date.

Most of us have little time to peruse the legal pages to see if we are getting blind-sided like we just did, but it is a fact of life. This project was “made available to the public” in a 3-inch by one column wide article in the weekly Mason County Journal with a 14-day public comment period. It was an article mainly of legalese gobblygoop with the title “NOTICE OF MITIGATED DETERMINATION OF NONSIGNIFICANCE SHELTON SPRINGS SUBDIVISION.” No kidding.

Be aware of what we are facing, or you too will end up seeing the precursor of the end of your airport caused by uninformed government officials who possess very little foresight and feel they are above the law. You are strongly urged to check with the governing body of your airport to make sure they have complied. Word has it that only about 50% have complied, and the airports are very vulnerable.

JACK KRAUSE

Shelton, Wash.

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