Subdivision by airport approved

Pilots using the Kingman Airport may have to deal with a new subdivision at the end of the runway.

The Board of Supervisors Monday overruled the County Planning and Zoning Commission and approved an amendment to the county's General Plan, which will allow the Statesboro subdivision to be built in the approach to one of the airport's runways. Supervisors Buster Johnson and Tom Sockwell voted for the development. Board Chairman Pete Byers voted against it.

The 320-acre property is located 1.5 miles from the end of one of the airport's runways. According to the Airport's master plan, that runway is to be extended 4,000 feet in the near future, which would put it approximately 2,600 feet from the development. The property is to be subdivided into 795 lots for homes along with an area for commercial development, a school and a fire station.

A representative for the developer was at the meeting and said the company was planning to price the homes between $145,000 and the mid $200,000 range.

He also said the company has received a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration saying the development should pose no hazard to the airport even after the runway is extended.

The County Planning and Zoning Commission denied developer STGG Holding Co., LLC's request for the minor amendment during its meeting in April. At that meeting, several officials from the Airport Authority and the Pilots Association expressed concerns over noise levels and safety issues.

In May, the Board of Supervisors received a letter from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots' Association urging the Board to deny the minor amendment.

Those concerns were repeated at Monday's Board meeting.

Airport Authority Executive Director Dave French said the county and the city have an obligation to the safety of their citizens. Both entities have the ability to restrict how land is used in certain areas, including around airports.

George Sharp, director of the Airport Authority Board and a former FAA employee and a pilot, said it was not in the best interest of aviation safety to put a subdivision this close to the airport.

County Manager Ron Walker asked one pilot who spoke out against the subdivision how low a plane's approach would be to the runway.

The pilot responded that a plane would be flying between 800 and 500 feet above the proposed development on approach to the runway.

Joe Carl Parsons, another pilot, said the development is entirely too close to the flight path of the runway. He also expressed concern over noise.

"Regardless of the empty promises by developers, the noise level in this so-called affordable housing development will be unacceptable to the residents," Parsons said. "Lawsuits will ensue and the resulting financial burden will impact me personally and the entire economic development of the Kingman Airport."

There are other areas in Kingman where affordable housing could be developed, he said.

The FAA was mainly concerned with the height of the buildings in the flight path, not noise, he said.

Another pilot, Phil Sanders, pointed out that if a pilot has engine trouble he is going to have to put a plane down somewhere.

Also, the airport has received complaints from residents in other developments close to the airport about noise.

Byers said he probably received around 50 phone calls and 50 visits from various people about the subdivision.

He drove out to the end of the runway and to the proposed location of the subdivision just to see what the noise level would be like. As he was sitting in his truck a jet flew overhead.

"It was very, very noisy," he said. He agreed that the area needed more affordable housing and that people should know when they purchase a house near an airport that it will be noisy.

Byers then made a motion to approve the Commission's denial but failed to get a second.

Johnson pointed out that the city of Kingman had already approved sewer and water service to the subdivision and that the county had approved other subdivisions near the airport. He made a motion to overturn the Commission and approve the request for the amendment.

Sockwell said he, too, had talked with the city about the project.

"I guess I'll look at it this way: If the developer wants to do this and people want to buy where there's a possibility of noise, that's their choice," he said.