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Pros and Cons of Indianapolis Executive Airport Zoning OutlinedBy Public
- From: Colleen Turner <turner@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 21:25:09 -0800 (PST)
December 7, 2003
Pros and Cons of Airport Zoning Outlined By Public
Lebanon Reporter, IN
Supporters and opponents of a proposed airport zoning district for Indianapolis
Executive Airport were given an hour Wednesday night to share their thoughts.
Officials from the Hamilton County Aviation Board, the owners of the airport
(formerly known as Indianapolis Terry Airport), are leading the charge to
rezone the 560-acre general aviation airport location on State Road 32 in Union
Township. The proposal would also rezone Boone County Airport in Lebanon. Both
airports are located on land zoned agricultural with a special exception to
allow for the airport use.
In October, Boone County Area Plan Commission Executive Director Steve Niblick
presented a draft of the proposal to create an airport zoning district. He has
said the current special exception process can be a tedious process for both
the airport and the county. He said the proposal would set guidelines for the
airport to work within.
The airport needs to have the zoning in place by April 2004 because according
to a decision by the Boone County Board of Zoning Appeals, the airport must
apply for a special exception for existing and future improvements to the
grounds by that date.
During the hearing, APC member Jay Parks said there are some issues that need
to be resolved before moving forward. He said the board should consider the
comments made at the hearing. He also requested APC attorney Gerard Gregerson
to review the zoning powers the county will have over the airport once the
facility is rezoned. The APC will have two work sessions, one in December and
another in January to go over the issue. A public hearing on the rezone will be
held again in February.
This is not the first time the county looked at rezoning Indianapolis Executive
Airport. In 2000, then Commissioners Garland Ferrell and Thelma Theobald
approved a rezoning request filed by Terry Airport to rezone 607 plus acres on
the airport property and neighboring land from AG-Agriculture to I-1 Light
Industrial, and 50 acres from agriculture to GB-General Business to allow an
industrial park. Commissioner Wendy Brant opposed the change.
The move, which provided a less strict zoning classification, was reversed back
to agriculture a year later when Commissioners Jo Baldauf and Byron Loveless
joined the board.
In recent years, the airport has been a sore subject for area neighbors known
as the Boone/Hamilton County Property owners Association. The group has
expressed concern about growth and expansion at the facility.
During Wednesday's hearing supporters from both sides stated their case. Here
are some of the comments made during the hearing:
Cynthia Ellis, Union Township
Ellis said under the current special exception process, the county has control
over the zoning at the airport. She said if the airport is rezoned "we will
have lost all control of what goes on at the airport." She said she is
concerned about the potential expansion of the runway and would like to see the
airport hours limited.
Chris Schnepf, Union Township
Schnepf said the airport is currently out of compliance based on a June 2002
ruling of the Boone County Board of Zoning Appeals. He questioned the proposed
rezone being supported by what he calls "a small group of people." "Its (the
zoning) not broken, why are we fixing it?" Schnepf also questioned the belief
that the airport will bring in economic development. "What businesses have been
brought by the airport."
Jackie Carr, Union Township Trustee
Carr said while she is not asking the airport to go away, she is asking it to
be a "good neighbor." She said the airport is an unlawful use based on the
BZA's May 2002 memo. "If the airport is rezoned ... then federal law can
control what happens at the airport and we lose the ability to restrict its
uses." She said right now the Boone County Commissioners and the BZA have some
control. She also stated that she doesn't think the airport is an economic
boost for the area, but instead a "drain on the local government."
Jill Troha, Union Township
Troha is a firm believer that the "airport can peacefully coexist" with the
surrounding property owners. She said she is not comfortable with current
rezone proposal, but thinks Hamilton County is trying to do the right thing.
She said the Indiana courts have supported the BZA's May 2002 decision
upholding the special exception process. "It (the new rezoning) seems to me
like an uncontrolled mess."
Tim Roebken, Union Township
Roebken said "once the zoning is created, we (Boone County) don't have control"
over the airport. "They want the ability to operate it without restrictions."
He said with the possibility that Metropolitan Airport in Fishers closing in
the next 10 years, more planes will be landing and taking off from Executive
Airport. He suggested a committee be formed to address the airport rezone.
Mike Howard, attorney for Hamilton County
Howard said the rezone will "let the surrounding landowners ... know of record"
where the airport is located by providing notice. He also suggested the
Hamilton County Aviation Board and airport officials are considering dropping a
plan to add an east/west runway at the airport. He said there are advantages of
such a runway, but it is not a necessity. He said if it were added it would
"rarely be used." The airport currently has one 55,000 foot north/south runway.
Howard said since the airport receives federal funds and is a general aviation
airport, it cannot restrict hours of operation. He also said since the runway
is a asphalt runway with a 60,000 pound runway, no planes larger than 60,000
pounds can land.
Speaking on the economic advantages, Howard said the proximity of an airport is
critical for corporate businesses locating in the area and increasing the tax
Mike Baker, Union Township
Baker said "we (Boone County) have a great opportunity." He said while Boone
County should have looked at purchasing the airport, he envisions a great
partnership between both counties. He said as a real estate agent in the area,
he has seen the advantages of having an airport nearby.
Andrea Montgomery, co-owner of Montgomery Aviation, the operator of
Indianapolis Executive Airport
Montgomery said the airport has existed since 1956 and has been very beneficial
to the area from an economic standpoint. She said the airport is clearly
supported by a master plan approved by the Town of Whitestown in 1980. Calling
it a "gateway to the community," Montgomery said while like all airports, it
does not pay property taxes, excise taxes from the airport come back to the
county. She said the economic impact of the airport is estimated at $18 million
and added 70 percent of its users are from Boone County. "It's about zoning an
airport an airport."
Michael Andreoli, Zionsville area attorney
Andreoli said it is impossible for a business to operate when every time it
wants to make an expansion it has to get government approval. He said the
rezone will allow the airport to make changes within the rules set by Boone
County within its boundaries only. He said if it wants to purchase additional
land and expand outwards, it will have to come back for approval.
Bill Cummings, Indianapolis
Cummings said air transportation is very important for economic development. He
said "its is amazing who comes in and out" of Executive Airport and named
politicians, Larry Bird and David Letterman. He said it is very difficult for
any business to be micro-managed.
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