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"Opinion: Why Idaho airport manager was fired"
- From: Stephen Irwin <stephen.irwin@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:14:01 -0700
Friday, October 31, 2014
Why airport manager was fired
By MIKE SATREN
The Coeur d' Alene (ID) Press
"Hell Bent For Election" describes many politicians as election day looms,
but city planners could likewise be described as Hell Bent for Tax Revenues
as they rush to approve growth projects and developers as Hell Bent for
Profits as they push for zoning changes to build their developments as
densely as allowed. That arm-in-arm relationship is considered a win-win for
city planners and for developers in cahoots, but each with his own
self-interest in mind.
What that means for many airports located close to municipalities is
encroachment of construction too dense for safety, if city planners and
developers get their way. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) convened
a task force years ago armed with National Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB) data of airplane crashes in the vicinity of airports. Using density
of crash data as a guide, six impact zones were identified, scaled to the
type of airport, length of runway, etc., to protect pilots, passengers and
those on the ground from undue harm should an aircraft have problems and
need to land, now. A number of states have incorporated these zones into
airport land-use planning handbooks.
Then Coeur d'Alene Airport Manager Greg Delavan called to inform me about a
Kootenai Area Planning Reconciliation Workshop for Elected Officials at the
Kroc Center (which was held on Sept. 3) regarding the CdA Airport Master
Plan, which incorporates the above-described six impact zones and the City
of Hayden's frustrated plans to expand. In attendance were City of Hayden
Community and Economic Development Director Connie Krueger, the three
Kootenai County commissioners, plus representatives from the cities of
Hayden, Coeur d'Alene, Rathdrum, the Lakes Highway District, and in the
Airport Advisory Board Chair John Adams and KMPO Executive Director Glenn
Miles. The forum was facilitated by an independent contractor, Marsha
According to Krueger, who gave the main presentation, the City of Hayden's
plans to expand are being hamstrung by the airport's plans for future
expansion and by the six impact zones which were incorporated in the most
recent iteration of the Airport Master Plan to safeguard specific approach
segments of land for safety reasons. She particularly blamed the six impact
zones for the bottleneck of development approvals that were frustrating her
plans. She admitted getting emotional when she talked about the six impact
KMPO's Miles then got up and gave a similar rant against those safety zones.
When I went to the bathroom during intermission, the talk was all about the
evils of the six impact zones and the harm that was being done because of
the holdup in plans caused by them.
By the time Delavan got up to field questions, the mood of the place was
hostile, all feeling the pain of poor Hayden and its hurdles to growth.
Except for Delavan, Adams and myself, I knew of no other pilots in the room,
yet all these non-pilots seemed to be similarly emotional about the
restrictions to their beloved development. As the sole survivor of a fatal
airplane accident, I get emotional about greedy city planners and developers
who put pilots, passengers and others on the ground at needless risk.
Back in 2008, I was on the board of the Coeur d'Alene Airport Association
when the board and I took it upon ourselves to participate in the hearings
being held by the Kootenai County Planning and Zoning Commission, which was
compiling information for its new Kootenai County Comprehensive Plan.
Immediately I noticed that the Coeur d'Alene Airport was not even mentioned
in the Transportation Section, which seemed to have been largely written by
So, referencing Spokane County's Comprehensive Plan, I built an airport
model for Kootenai County's Transportation Section appropriate for Kootenai
County's lone airport and included the FAA's six impact zones, which I drew
by hand and to scale on a map of Coeur d'Alene Airport.
After the Kootenai Comp Plan was finalized, Delavan, along with the Coeur
d'Alene Airport Advisory Board, incorporated these six impact zones into the
new Coeur d'Alene Airport Master Plan.
Many people do not know that some national developers (not necessarily those
in Kootenai County) make it part of their business plan to buy cheap land
around airports, lobby for city planners to change the zoning by promising
tax revenues, build dense housing, sell it off quickly before the buyers
realize they are under the approach or takeoff zones, then move on to
The airport, its users and the people of the region who realize benefits
from the airport (without realizing it) take the hit when complaints from
these new upset home owners start rolling in. Timid politicians then try to
placate these homeowners by putting restrictions on the use of the airport,
noise abatements, closing the airport to takeoffs and landings between
certain hours, and restricting future growth of the airport that would
benefit the community as a whole.
When the FAA congealed these six impact zones, it based its findings on
statistical data populated with dots showing crash locations relative to
each runway. In the interests of reality, rarely are crashes of aircraft
truly represented by dots where the aircraft actually spins straight in;
rather they are longish dashes representing an aircraft trying to bleed off
speed and energy in a more horizontal direction. In these cases building
Greg Delavan was attempting to put in place a future for Coeur d'Alene
Airport/Pappy Boyington Field in as safe a manner as possible and in my
opinion, because it became an impediment to tax revenues and developer
profits, he was fired.
Mike Satren is a local pilot and writer.
Airport Land Use: Building near an airport?"
Airport Land Use: Large housing development proposed near Phoenix-Mesa
Editorial: Homes and runways don't mix (2003)
Airport Land Use: Commissioners step in on N. Carolina airport debate (2001)
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