“We lost this one.”
That’s how one California pilot describes the recent news that a 909-acre mixed-use development will soon break ground less than two miles from the Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK).
The development, known as Tidewater Crossing, will be built adjacent to the airport. It will contain a mixture of single and multi-family homes – 2,365 in all – as well as a school, a park and industrial space.
Pilots say the proximity of the development to the airport is a recipe for disaster.
“It’s right up against it,” said Ed Rosiak, president of the California Pilots Association. “It comes down to issues of safety and noise. It is a busy airport. One of these days a UPS heavy is going to be making a circle to land approach over the homes and there will be complaints. That’s what we told the city and the county when they were looking at this project.”
According to Rosiak, pilots wrote letters and e-mails and testified at public hearings in an effort to educate decision makers in the community. Pilots were able to convince the county that it was not a good idea to allow a development so close to the airport, but the city approved the project last October, he said.
According to Barbara Berlin, deputy director of community development and planning for the city of Stockton, city officials did listen to the aviation community prior to approving the project, and tried to work with the developer, Arnaiz Development Co., to address those concerns.
“We convinced the developers to remove some medium-density housing from the northwest corner of the project and replace it with industrial land to avoid having homes that close to the airport,” she said. “There is a school proposed for the southern end of the property. It cannot be in the direct flight path obviously, and if the new airport master plan that is in the works shows a flight path over that land, the developers will have to modify the development plan.”
She added the school won’t be built “anytime soon.”
“The project is starting from the north and working south,” she explained. “But due to the economy, right now no one is interested in starting to build.”
There are 204 aircraft based at SCK, ranging from jets to helicopters. The airport has two runways – one measures 10,650 feet, the other 4,454 feet. Traffic is a mix of commercial, military and general aviation operations. The airport, which sits on 1,449 acres three miles southeast of the city, also boasts a number of businesses, including aircraft repair and restoration shops, flight schools, commercial passenger services and the Air National Guard.
The airport already has voluntary noise abatement procedures in effect that prohibit touch and goes from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
A particular concern of pilots is that the development was created using a noise contour map from 1993.
“That’s what they had, so that’s what they used,” said Berlin, adding that the airport has not been the “huge growth engine” the city thought it would be in years past.
General Aviation News placed several calls to airport manager Susan Palmari, who replied by voice mail that she preferred not to comment on the development.
Berlin noted that the development company will still need to have the project approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission, which is made up of representatives from several local governments, before a single shovel of dirt is turned.
“Although the zoning is now in place, the developers have not submitted a subdivision map yet,” she added.
Calls to the development company were not returned by press time.
For more information: CalPilots.org.