September 12, 2004
AOPA has been fighting the trend of developers building homes too close to airports, and Grand Prairie Airport (GPM) in northeastern Texas has joined the list of battleground locations.
More than three decades ago, the City of Grand Prairie zoned a parcel of land that sits less than 1,500 feet south of Runway 35 - within the runway protection zone (RPZ) - for multi-family housing use. Now, a developer is planning to build an apartment complex there.
Debate over the plan is heating up, and all sides are weighing in - but it could be too late.
In July 2004, the FAA issued a determination of no hazard to air navigation that summarily notes the proposed complex would not affect navigation at the airport but advises "the FAA considered the proposal as an incompatible land-use due to proximity to the...airport." The City of Grand Prairie did not appeal the study, and now there is an uproar in the community.
More than 100 people attended a city council meeting on Tuesday night, with the vast majority speaking against the proposed complex. Pilots and even local homeowners voiced concerns. AOPA's Southwestern Regional Representative Shelly Lesikar was one of 12 speakers that evening. She urged the council to consider the ramifications of ignoring prescribed safety precautions such as RPZs and the economic impact on federal funding and local commerce of an airport with no or limited growth potential.
"At an airport with almost 100,000 annual operations and more than 250 based aircraft, you can't simply 'overlook' important matters like zoning within an RPZ," Lesikar added.
The council tabled its vote on the project until its next meeting in January, even though several council members expressed support for the airport.
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