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"Airport Land Use: Planners might ground California airport"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2005 23:03:01 -0500
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Planners might ground airport
Its owner, pilots blame development for bid to close field.
By Sandy Louey
The Sacramento (CA) Bee
A Cessna 150 takes off from the Elk Grove Airport, flying over Keith
Cossairt's hangar toward Grant Line Road.
Airplanes landing and departing have been a common sight since the small
airport opened in 1934. But that may cease if the Sacramento County Project
Planning Commission on Monday refuses to renew the airport's use permit, as
recommended by the planning staff.
Pilots and others are fighting the denial recommendation, saying the
airport, formerly called Sunset Skyranch, is a community asset being pushed
aside in favor of development.
But others contend the airport is too close to development to be safe.
Both the city of Elk Grove and Elk Grove Unified School District have sent
letters to the county about the airport's effect on an elementary school
planned within two miles of its runway. The school district says it won't
build the school if the airport's use permit is renewed.
Pilots store about 60 planes in about 30 corrugated metal hangars at the
80-acre airport just outside Elk Grove city limits in unincorporated
Sacramento County. About a dozen flights use the 2,780-foot-long runway to
take off each day. The pilots are split almost evenly between aviation
enthusiasts and those using it for business purposes, Cossairt said.
Airport owner Daniel Lang, an attorney living in Oregon, disagrees with the
county planning staff's recommendation not to allow continued operations.
"That is a recommendation that's driven by developers seeking to increase
the density of development in Elk Grove," said Lang. "That's inconsistent
with one of the original goals, which is to preserve the rural character of
He said Elk Grove residents, not the county, should determine the airport's
In November, the Cosumnes Community Planning Advisory Council voted 4-2 to
recommend renewal of the airport's permit for a five-year period. The permit
expired in October.
But, the county planning staff recommends that the county planning
commission reject the request, saying that operating an airport no longer
makes sense in the increasingly urban area.
The airport's next-door neighbor, Dale Mahon, agreed Wednesday, saying the
homes that have sprouted up in the area raise safety concerns.
"A lot of things were compatible in the past that we couldn't do now," Mahon
Elk Grove Unified spokesman Jim Elliott said district officials had to
contend with the airport flight-path issue when they were looking at
potential school sites for the district's eighth middle and high school
complex, which ended up being built at Bond and Bradshaw roads.
Increasing recognition of the airport's incompatibility with development was
part of the reason Sacramento County supervisors renewed its last use permit
for only five years, said Sheryl Lenzie, a county planner.
Cossairt, who serves as treasurer for the Sunset Skyranch Pilots
Association, said he and other pilots will go to court, if needed, to keep
the airport open.
"We're willing to make any changes to stay here," said Cossairt, who lives
in Elk Grove.
He said the association, which has about 60 members, sent letters to about
3,500 east Elk Grove residences recently, stating that the airport's closure
"would open the door for uncontrolled development of east Elk Grove."
Five years ago, the closest homes west of the airport were about two miles
away. Now, they're about half a mile away, Cossairt said.
If the Elk Grove Airport closed, pilots would have to look for another
airport - something they don't relish because of the unavailability, costs
and restrictions associated with other small airports in the area.
"There's just no place to go," said Howard Mugleston of Carmichael, who has
been using the Elk Grove Airport since 1972.
Lang said his airport has been used for community events and emergency
preparedness drills, and by numerous law enforcement and military groups for
practice and rescue operations over the years at no charge.
The county project planning commission is scheduled to make a decision on
renewing the airport's use permit at a meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m. at 700 H
St., Suite 1450, Sacramento.
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
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