Residents View Airport on Wrong Path

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By: 
Kevin Murphy

MIDDLETON–Opponents of expanding Middleton Municipal Airport-Morey Field cautioned city planners not to use the updating of the Comprehensive Plan to facilitate changing the airport’s role as serving recreational pilots to encouraging commercial aviation.

The Airport Commission first reviewed the Transportation Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan at their September meeting. Last week, Abby Attoun, director of Planning and Community Development, sought feedback from the commission on the transportation chapter.

Protecting the airspace and approach corridors from future encroachment was mentioned by Commission Chair John Hallick and Airport Manager Richard Morey.

“We need a policy to protect airspace and approach corridors that goes beyond transmission lines,” said Hallick. “If we have powers that prevent penetration of our airspace we should use them.”

The plan addresses airplane noise complaints, an ongoing issue at commission meetings. The plan stated that Morey and the commission should frequently review airplane noise complaints for patterns, and inform pilots believed to be violating Federal Aviation Administration regulations or the voluntary noise abatement procedures. The goal being “to ensure that the airport is operating as safely and as harmoniously with surrounding residents as possible.”

Residents commenting on the chapter focused on the plan’s calling for an airport that “supports regional economic development maximizes financial self-sufficiency, and serves as an attractive and neighborly gateway to the surrounding community.”

In written comments, Fred Klancnik, of Middleton, said the plan should emphasize the airport’s traditional role of supporting “small recreational propeller aircraft, not commercial turbo-props and jets.”

“My main concern is that the E-W runway will be extended by 1,000 feet as part of an airport expansion plan based on goals of economic development and creating an airport gateway to serve the west side of the Greater Madison Metropolitan Area.  This goal of airport expansion is not one that I and many of my neighbors support,” Klancnik wrote.

“In my opinion, we simply don’t want louder and more frequent noise pollution and the increased possibility of an aircraft accident in the neighborhoods that lie in the fight path of the (east-west) runway,” he wrote.

Town of Middleton Chair and former Airport Commission Vice Chair Cynthia Richson said that the city failed to protect the airport’s airspace in 2016 when an American Transmission Co. power line was built about three miles west of the east-west runway.

The power line makes expanding the runway by 1,000 feet unfeasible yet the city hired Mead & Hunt to write an airport master which Richson said attempts to create a demand for airport expansion.

“Mead & Hunt has not been able to create what was never there, in essence, a demand or need to expand C29 (the airport),” she said.

Richson asked the Airport Commission to recommend that the Common Council halt work on the airport master plan in order to preserve any of the $200,000 Mead & Hunt contract. She noted that Middleton s not following a statutory requirement of comprehensive plans for cities to compare its objectives, policies and goals to state and regional transportation plans, and identify existing or potential conflicts with local municipalities.

Richson’s remarks were made in the public comment section of the meeting and the commission didn’t respond to them.

Later, Attoun said she heard no comments that would be a policy concern, and the Airport Commission agreed by consensus with the comments commission members made.

The Plan Commission is expected to hold a public hearing in December on the entire Comprehensive Plan in December before forwarding it to the Common Council, which would also hold a public hearing on it.

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