Chaffee BoCC approves text change of Salida Airport overlay district code – by Jan Wondra

It took over a year to get there, dozens of meetings and seven follow-ups on their agendas, but on Tuesday August 10, the Chaffee County Commissioners Council (BoCC) session unanimously approved a new overlay district of Salida Harriet Alexander Field Airport. The overlay area meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements limiting development in key areas of the area around the airport while improving public safety.

“The airport is an essential part of the Chaffee County transportation system,” said airport manager Zech Papp. “We are trying to find the best compromise to protect the airport… while giving landowners the best possible use of their land. This is how we came to a house on two acres to the south and north, and a house on five acres to the east and west. [approach areas]. “

The change to the text of the County Land Use Code (LUC) was approved by the airport advisory board before being presented to the BoCC. It removes the existing section 7. Section 7.7.2 Salida Airport Overland District and replaces it with a new proposal. The text is available at: Overlay

Airports present problems with noise, light and public safety. The overlay text amendment limits density in the airport overlay district to one residence per five acres in runway approach areas, and one residence per two acres in the north and south. Staff confirmed that five acres is the standard density for airport overlay areas. A footnote has been added to the LUC stating that the existing residences in the overlay “shall be treated as non-conforming uses”. If these areas are tacked, they must now include a note of proximity to the airport. Auxiliary Accommodation Units (ADUs) ADUs will not be permitted in the overlap area, and permanent and private assembly places will require a major impact review.

Harriet Alexander Field, Salida Airport. Photo courtesy of Zech Papp.

The airport is zoned industrial and any new use in the area will have to meet FAA requirements. The amendment to the LUC text includes an exemption for private events and memorial services in the airport protection zone.

The move follows the August 2020 adoption of the comprehensive new county master plan, but precedes the county’s work to revise the rest of the LUC to align with the compensation plan. This prompted an airport-focused text amendment at LUC, which was drafted by Charlie McDermott.

The approval process became a marathon, with a staff meeting with the airport advisory board, text amendment to the planning commission, a return to the airport advisory board, further adjustments, a review by the FAA, a return to the planning commission and a public hearing. . On June 23, staff met with the Airport Advisory Board to review it, and then the Planning Commission blessed it before the BoCC session.

The in-depth discussion revolved around two questions:

  • Equity to allow owners to fully develop their properties.
  • The need to comply with FAA overlay requirements so that federal airport funding is not compromised and public safety is emphasized.

“The FAA has only seen this once, but we got the deal that one unit for five acres is a safer approach,” planning director Jon Roorda said of the amendment. of text. “They’re more comfortable with it, but in some cases they’ve allowed one residential unit per two acres.”

Commissioner Rusty Granzella noted that he was concerned about a minimum density of 5 acres all around the airport, “but if it can be averaged, (it’s in the LUC), I’m willing to accept. the motion “.

“So a suggested way forward for someone who wants to do some sort of residential use inside the airport approach surface… it boils down to the facts of the specific application,” he said. said BoCC chairman Greg Felt, who offered examples of taller, or taller buildings. residential density. “Is it the best of times, that the BoCC would have this capacity [to decide], or would there be an FAA review?

During public comments, resident Dave Brown, who lives at 8220 CR 160 on an existing 2.6 acre parcel, asked for clarification on the usage chart that staff have developed and added:, You are changing the perceived value. of the earth. His property could not be subdivided unless he chose to hook up to city sewers and water.

FAA rules cover airspace, not land use. Although the area east of the airport cliff descends, regardless of terrain, the approach area is defined by space; the FAA measures the overlaid approach area in two dimensions, not three.

“The main concern of the FAA is height restrictions – they want to make sure that something isn’t built that would obstruct the approach surface…. density is a local condition, ”McDermott said. “They don’t regulate or control, but they encourage less approach surface density… they want local municipalities to know what they approve. As for the height, this is where the FAA would step in and determine that it would be a hazard … as for the height, it depends on where you are on the property and where you are. surface ).”

Airport manager Zech Papp explained the areas of the overlay map which include the runway approach areas (orange), an airport protection area (purple), and the transition surface (yellow ), which are critical, and why the public needs to be made aware of these areas.

“I have emails from 2018, a man considering buying a property, he asked me about the traffic pattern, I showed him a full chart of the flight patterns and he proceeded to the purchase of the property. Over the past two years, I have received two dozen letters from him complaining about the noise, ”Papp said. “The reason we started this was to protect the airport. By defining the airport protection zone and using the terrain, we were able to clear the residential areas north and south of the runway.

“It’s a kind of cone [shape] said Commissioner Keith Baker. “I will say that somewhere there must be some sort of warning about proximity and encroachment… I have little understanding or pity for those who build next to an airport and then complain about the noise. “

Ass. County District Attorney Daniel Tom noted that county staff will contact landowners, advising them that they are in the overlay and that their property may be affected. He noted that grant assurances are required to receive grants from the FAA, providing an example: “Element # 14, states that you will ensure compatible land use, immediate restricted uses at the airport and allow operations compatible with airport operations. “

Federal requirements for airport overlays were discussed at length, with Felt requesting and receiving confirmation that federal financial support for airports depends on the adoption of an airport overlay district, and that failure to comply with this obligation would have consequences.

“The airport sponsor accepts insurance, to obtain subsidies; one of them says that as a sponsor you will ensure the protection around the airport area and manage the development, so as not to jeopardize the funding of the airport and the subsidies for the future, ”he said. said Papp. He added that the FAA notes the local process to protect an airport from development and keep it industrial. “It was time for us to take that step – it shows the FAA that we have done due diligence here. “

“This [airport] the problem has been around as long as the airport, ”Roorda said.

“These are civilian surfaces, but every airport in this country has these surfaces applied to them,” McDermott said. “These layering plans aren’t new, they’ve been around since the 1960s.”

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