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AOPA asks FAA to protect Tulare (California) airportAOPA asks FAA to protect Tulare (California) airport

AOPA asks FAA to protect Tulare (California) airport

AOPA is calling on the FAA to enforce rules that would protect Mefford Field Airport (TLR) in Tulare, California, from an encroaching safety hazard. Over the objections of local pilots, the State of California, the California Pilots Association, and AOPA, the city has approved construction of a truck terminal in the runway protection zone.

In a letter to the FAA's San Francisco Airports District Office, AOPA said, "By allowing construction of this truck stop facility in close proximity to the airport, the city is creating a hazard it already promised to prevent by signing the federal grant assurances. We urge the FAA to immediately advise the city of their obligations to protect the airport from non-compatible land use."

AOPA reviewed drawings of the project and determined that Knight Transportation intended to build an office and maintenance buildings and large retention pond within the runway protection zone (RPZ) for Runway 13. They want to build a refueling station with an above-ground fuel tank immediately adjacent to the RPZ. And they plan to install extensive lighting.

But the city of Tulare has received more than $1.4 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds, and that obligates the city to use its zoning authority to prevent "the establishment or creation of future airport hazards."

Even the city's own ordinances prohibit lights that would result in glare in the eyes of pilots using the airport or that would make it difficult for pilots to distinguish between airport lights and others.

"AOPA is of the opinion that the city is not only ignoring their federal grant obligations but their own ordinances concerning land use restrictions near their airport," AOPA told the FAA.

While AOPA is working on the federal level, volunteer lawyers for the California Pilots Association (which has legal standing in California courts) have filed a petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to require the city to revoke the permit allowing construction of the truck facility.

June 22, 2004

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