AOPA is urging officials in Merced, Calif., not to pursue a municipal development proposal that would locate residential housing under the traffic pattern of county-owned Castle Airport, northwest of the city.
Merced’s draft long-range planning document, Merced Vision 2030 General Plan, is moving through the review process. One of the items included is a development to be known as the Castle Farms Community Plan. It would add a roughly two-mile square area (2,606 acres) to the city, which has a population of about 80,000. The development would include low density and low/medium density residential development directly under the traffic pattern of the airport, which is the former Castle Air Force Base.
“Because of AOPA’s long experience with airport land use compatibility issues, we are opposed to residential development in close proximity to the airport,” wrote John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, in an Oct. 21 letter to Kim Espinosa, Merced’s planning manager. “We strongly urge the City to explore alternatives which are compatible in cooperation with the County of Merced, as they are the airport sponsor and have a vested interest in the continued safe operation of Castle Airport.”
The county has written to the city “and asked if they could work together to come up with a more compatible land use than the proposed development,” Collins said. In a letter sent to the city the county stood up for its airport and outlined concerns with the proposed general plan as it relates to Castle Airport. AOPA was very pleased to see the airport sponsor lay out such a compelling case for protecting its airport from a neighboring jurisdiction. The city, which is the owner of Merced Regional Airport, south of the city, expects the planning process to continue into early 2011, according to the municipal website.