Town board nixes housing by airport

Developer proposes affordability

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— Hayden officials recognize the need for affordable housing within the town, but do not want to see it developed close to Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Steamboat Springs resident Joe McKenzie was proposing to develop 33 acres into affordable housing on the corner of Crandall and County Road 37. The property is less than a mile from the airport's runway.

After a meeting with the Board of Trustees this week regarding the proposal, McKenzie will look elsewhere within the town, he said.

A consensus of town officials, including Mayor Chuck Grobe, believe that putting residential development close to the airport is too much of a risk.

"Affordable housing is exactly what we need," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "We are in dire need of it. It is commendable of (McKenzie) to come in here with this proposal. But the development would be three-quarters of a mile from an airport runway."

Grobe agreed.

"There is a reason the town has left the area industrial zoned," he said. "It is not an area open for discussion. I grew up two miles from an airport in Minneapolis. There will be some unhappy people there.

"If there would be an accident there, that is my concern. I am not in favor of increasing risk."

Jim Parker, YVRA aviation director, attended Thursday's meeting in opposition of the proposal.

"The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to protect runway approaches two miles out," he said. "I applaud affordable housing anywhere it can be built in the valley. But at this location I have safety concerns. I would like to see affordable housing, but not three-quarters of a mile from an airport runway."

If the town would let the development proceed, airplanes would fly about 1,000 feet over the proposed development, he said.

"Heaven forbid we would have a crash at the end of a runway," he said. If a crash occurred, "the development would probably be gone. It would be as if a bomb were dropped.

"The town has an opportunity here to not let this type of development impact the airport in a negative way."

Parker also speculated that noise generated from aircraft would become an issue. "In the long run, this type of development there means noise complaints," he said.

McKenzie argued the whole town of Hayden is at risk from the airport.

He also pointed out that the property is not in the airport's "safety zone."

Trustees Festus Hagins and Chencho Salazar had no problem with the development.

"It is a good spot to utilize this area," Hagins said. "This is something a lot of people can benefit from."

Hagins pointed out that the town let Hospital Hill and Vista Verde develop, despite their proximity to the airport.

"If this can't be developed, Vista Verde should have never been built," he said.

Salazar agreed.

"About three weeks ago, we were discussing the need for affordable housing," he said. "Here we have an opportunity. I don't have a problem with it. It will be up to people if they want to live there."

Trustees Ken Gibbon, Lorraine Johnson and Jim Haskins were not in favor of the development, because of the safety issue.

"I have a problem with that location," Haskins said. "I don't think it is in the best interest of the town to add to the potential. I have a real concern with the safety there.

"It is real refreshing to see this type of development, but what really hurts is it is at this location."

McKenzie was not disappointed with the board's reaction to the proposal, he said.

"If they want affordable housing, I am willing to work with the town to find other property," he said. "The town is receptive to affordable housing, but their main concern is the location, which I understand."

If land can be found, McKenzie is proposing to develop modular homes that would be placed on foundations, he said.

"Each home would be four bedrooms, have two baths and a garage," he said. "These would all be new houses. The owner will own the land, so they will take pride in it."

Parker was satisfied with the board.

"It makes my life a little easier at the airport," he said. "I would like to see affordable housing in the area. There is not enough. But any type of housing at that location I could never support."

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