January 27, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
The municipal planning board in Southern Pines, N.C., has declined to approve a proposed 232-unit apartment complex that would have been located about 3,500 feet from the runway at the Moore County Airport.
The planning board voted 4-2 to withhold approval of the so-called Tyler’s Ridge at Sandhills development during a meeting Jan. 20 at which six AOPA members spoke in opposition to the plan. AOPA members and Airport Support Network volunteer Colin Webster rallied the local aviation community to participate in the development plan’s public review.
John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, submitted comments on the plan in a Jan. 19 letter to Planning Board Chairman John McInerney, urging the board to “strive for a more compatible land use” that would avoid potential future conflict between the airport community and residents living adjacent to its boundary.
AOPA and local pilots will continue to oppose the development and urge more compatible land use for the site, which is adjacent to Moore County’s 5,503-foot-long Runway 5/23. Despite the planning board vote, using the site as the location of a residential complex could still be approved by the town council. The project is slated on the town council's Feb. 8 meeting agenda.
“Pilots should keep an eye on the future agendas and appear at the town council meetings to voice their concerns—especially if they are Southern Pines residents,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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