AOPA gained some ground this week on a developer whose plans for a supermarket threatened Long Island's Republic Airport (FRG). The town of Babylon has rescinded a zoning variance for the shopping center that was to be built within the runway protection zone (RPZ) and directly under a final approach path. Work has halted on the project until the zoning issue is resolved.
"But the news is not as good as it seems at first glance," said AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn. "The action is just a procedural move to allow Babylon to send the variance to the county planning commission for review. But it also gives the state of New York more time to prepare to defend Republic. It's obvious that the town is starting to feel the heat from the aviation community."
Republic is owned by New York state. Earlier this month, AOPA wrote to New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, urging him to join a lawsuit to stop the incompatible land use within the RPZ. AOPA contends that the state should exercise its authority to prevent the development and preserve the safety of the airport by reclaiming the land.
"Encroachment and incompatible land use are the biggest threats GA airports face today," said Dunn. "As the owner and sponsor of Republic Airport, New York state needs to take an active role in protecting it—something the FAA grant obligations require. We're pleased to see that the state plans to use the delay to work on a resolution."