December 13, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Borough has passed an ordinance governing the construction of telecommunications towers and other tall structures, and precluding them from interference with approaches to the region’s airports.
The Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted Dec. 4 to approve the measure sponsored by Assembly Member Warren Keogh and supported by the Mat-Su Aviation Advisory Board. It applies to structures taller than 85 feet located outside the city limits of Houston, Palmer, and Wasilla.
Jane Dale, AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer at Willow and the executive director of the Alaska Airports Association, testified in support of the ordinance. With the assembly split 3-3 on the ordinance, Mayor Larry DeVilbiss cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.
Its approval will enhance safety at the borough’s 10 public airports and more than 200 private facilities, said Tom George, AOPA’s Alaska regional manager.
“Regulating the sites of towers and other tall structures is essential to protect airports,” he said.
The ordinance establishes a permit process, application requirements, and approval standards for “telecommunications facilities, wind energy conversion systems, and other tall structures.” The measure furthers the borough’s intent to “enable the orderly build-out” of wireless telecommunication infrastructure and other tall structures “while promoting the health, safety and general welfare” of the public, the ordinance said.
The ordinance addressed the potential hazard for aviation in language stating that a tall structure “will not interfere with the approaches to any existing airport or airfield” identified in the borough’s aviation system plan, or in the state system plan.
The Assembly’s action filled a year-long gap in local regulation of tall structures caused by repeal of a prior ordinance, George said.
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