Can't have 2 plans
Revise the Bob Adams Field Airport Plan or scrap the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. We can't have it both ways.
Airport issues raised by the Steamboat Pilot & Today make it increasingly clear why the west of Steamboat plan has not reached its potential. The plan is supposed to provide space for 30 to 40 years of growth, but in my estimation, it is impossible to fully implement without changes in the airport's flight zone.
Yet city and county officials are making decisions based on the plan's long-term success. The general belief that room for growth will be provided to the west has led to a lack of appropriate "infill" planning within the city limits. Planners recommend destroying Little Toots Park and ruining plans for an appropriate library so that Yampa Street can be extended to partially mitigate traffic congestion from the expected 2,600 homes to be built west of town. Will these homes ever be built? It seems unlikely.
The west of Steamboat plan can never be fulfilled as long as the airport controls so large an area of its surrounding property, thereby limiting what can be built there.
Why is this a problem? The west of Steamboat plan requires the city to annex property from east to west as property is developed. When this occurs, FAA regulations will require property owners to sign a legal waiver (Avigation Easement) relinquishing all civil and property rights to protect themselves from noise, vibration, pollution and potential airplane crashes.
Considering higher loss rates in flight pattern zones, will these homeowners have insurance at a reasonable cost, or at all? Will property owners living in the flight zone be protected from FAA regulations once annexation occurs? Who will develop property under these circumstances? These are issues that have effectively put an end to the west of Steamboat plan as it was written and adopted.
For many years, no regularly scheduled commercial flights have flown into Bob Adams Field because no commercial planes, currently manufactured, are safe to land there. It's time for the City Council and the Airport Commission to stop hoping that a small commercial jet will be developed to allow future commercial traffic to land safely at Steamboat's airport.
It's time for the City Council to stand up to special interests and insist that the Airport Layout Plan be revised to eliminate any multimillion dollar plans to extend the runway, acquire more land or to build a parallel taxiway. Limit aircraft to small, nonjet propeller planes, provide enforcement and permanently decrease the influence of the flight pattern zone.
If this cannot be done, moving the airport to land approved for general aviation at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport at Hayden would be a wise and cost-effective alternative for the majority of residents. Failing action by the City Council, the west of Steamboat plan must stop being touted as an answer to Steamboat Springs' future growth needs.
Loretta Van Norstrand