Aurora airport backers win authorized ruling in battle with land-use foes

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Backers of an Aurora State Airport enlargement challenge south of Wilsonville have received a key authorized ruling in a battle involving the attain of Oregon’s system for safeguarding farmland from city growth.

The Oregon Board of Land Use Appeals dominated Wednesday that the airport’s grasp plan – which requires extending the runway by 1,000 ft – doesn’t must show that it meets the state’s land-use targets. The choice was a defeat for 1000 Associates of Oregon, a bunch devoted to defending strict land-use controls, and for the cities of Wilsonville and Aurora.

Bruce Bennett, an plane dealer on the airport concerned within the litigation, stated the ruling vindicated the place of airport backers that the challenge didn’t increase important land-use considerations.

“It’s actually excellent news,” stated Bennett, including that the authorized motion “was an absurd misunderstanding, and a waste of money and time preventing security enhancements.”

Associated: Wilsonville candidates combat over Aurora airport — and Oregon’s land use legal guidelines

Wilsonville Metropolis Lawyer Barbara Jacobson stated the town could enchantment the choice to the Oregon Court docket of Appeals. Town has lengthy sought to limit development exterior the city development boundary – which ends simply north of the airport. And officers are additionally involved about potential noise and native site visitors impacts if Aurora’s flight operations improve.

“The courtroom’s ruling was disappointing, nevertheless it isn’t the tip of the story,” Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, the working lands engagement coordinator for 1000 Associates, stated in an announcement. She stated the Aurora airport ought to prioritize the usage of its present website and “direct new trade contained in the city development boundary.”

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An aerial view of Aurora State Airport.

GeoTerra, Inc.

The Aurora State Airport is owned by the state and hosts a number of massive aviation-related companies, together with Columbia Helicopters and the Life Flight Community. About 1,200 folks work out of the power, which has about 100,000 takeoffs and landings a yr. Whereas company jets steadily use the airport, it has no passenger airline operations.

Either side agree on one factor: the airport runway received’t be expanded anytime quickly.

Jacobson, the Wilsonville metropolis lawyer, stated the Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged this week that extending the runway would require an replace of the airport grasp plan. That by itself may delay any enlargement plans, she stated.

Bennett stated it’s no shock that the FAA requires cautious evaluation of something affecting airport flight operations. And backers nonetheless must safe funding and different approval to make the runway extension a actuality.

“Will probably be years” earlier than the runway will be prolonged, stated Bennett, including that “the development crew doesn’t present up tomorrow.”

The airport is simply off Interstate 5 and is in an space the place there was a protracted concern over preserving farmland within the Willamette Valley. Within the early 1970s, the event of the group of Charbonneau on prime farmland between the airport and Wilsonville was one of many components that constructed political help for Oregon’s distinctive system of statewide land-use controls. Charbonneau is now a part of the town of Wilsonville.

Associates of French Prairie, a land-use group affiliated with 1000 Associates, additionally participated within the authorized case determined by the Land Use Board of Appeals.

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The combat over the airport’s future has been intense at instances. Earlier than the final election, Bennett and different airport enterprise figures poured cash into the mayor’s race and two council seats. They hoped to win a council majority that may be friendlier to their airport plans. Nevertheless, their favored candidates misplaced all three races.

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