A 1,500-foot runway expansion and a 48-unit residential development that is in the works near Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, La., could pit airport neighbors against airport users. But AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Sam Parker is working with city officials to develop a compatible land-use ordinance that would protect the airport from such problems in the future.
Parker notified AOPA of the potential conflict between the runway extension and proposed housing development. The association wrote to Natchitoches Mayor Wayne McCullen, expressing concern about allowing land near the airport to be rezoned to allow multi-family houses to be built.
“Once residential development is allowed so close to an airport, particularly within the traffic pattern, it is only a matter of time before complaints are made concerning normal operations and demands for something to be done to reduce the impact on the residents in that area,” wrote John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy. Collins also noted that development so close to the airport could irritate neighbors who move in. In many cases, those who live under the traffic pattern of an airport complain about noise, dust, fumes, and frequent traffic operations above their homes.
Parker presented the letter during a Dec. 12 meeting with city officials about the issue. However, an airport engineering consultant told the council that the development would not penetrate protected areas around the airport, even though it would be adjacent to them.
The city council approved the rezoning request for the development but added that new home owners would need to sign aviation easements. In addition, the council agreed to work with Parker to create a compatible land-use ordinance to prevent similar problems in the future.
“We lost the battle in that the housing units will be built, but we probably have won the war with newer, better, tougher rules to be put in place to protect Natchitoches Regional Airport from further encroachment by land developers,” Parker said.