Archive for Thursday, January 14, 2010

County commissioner urges development moratorium to study FAA’s position on land near airport

County commissioner responds to dredging plan near airport

A Manhattan business withdrew its proposal for sand-dredging operation. The withdrawal comes on the heels of concerns from the FAA about bird interference with airplanes.

January 14, 2010


Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman is pondering a proposed moratorium on all new industrial development applications outside Lawrence Municipal Airport in Grant Township.

The commissioner says she’s responding to a Manhattan-based company’s decision this week to withdraw its plan for a sand-dredging operation near Midland Junction north of Lawrence. She said a moratorium would not include projects ongoing at the airport.

“I’m not looking for years and years of delay. I’m just looking for a moment to study the situation and plan,” she said.

Thellman said much work and many dollars were put into the sand facility proposal before the company had to withdraw it.

Midwest Concrete Materials pulled its application for a facility on 310 acres after the Federal Aviation Administration said a lake on the site would attract migratory birds, which the FAA said are dangerous within 10,000 feet of the airport.

City officials were concerned FAA’s stance could endanger federal grant funding for the airport. Midwest Concrete Materials officials said they believed the facility, planned more than a mile from the airport, would have been safe, but they are looking for a new site.

Thellman said the county should study the FAA’s stance to find out what ramifications it could have — on new farm ponds, for example, and other features.

“I think in fairness to the folks who are speculating, planners and developers alike, they need to understand what the new wrinkle is and what it means,” she said.

County Commissioner Jim Flory on Wednesday said such a hold might go too far.

“I’ll be a hard-sell on a moratorium,” he said.

Thellman, a Grant Township resident, has urged the county to protect prime agricultural land in opposition to a 2007 industrial development plan near the airport. But she says she sees a moratorium as a way to make the planning process more fair to developers.

“It’s not a soil issue. It’s an airport issue,” Thellman said.


John Hamm 8 years ago

She's using good sense. Too bad other commissioners (county and city) don't do the same.

compmd 8 years ago

I guess Mr. Flory doesn't fear the term "birdstrike" nearly as much as the people who use the airport do.

Woodstein 8 years ago

A moratorium isn't needed but simply better planning practices/communications from Lawrence-Douglas County Planning staff with developer & City Airport Staff. As part of their checklist when a development item is first conceived and discussed with their department, any development within a five mile-radius of the Airport would be considered against existing FAA A/Cs for compliance. This would include water (ponds/lakes/drainage), land (transportation/development) and structures (towers: communications, energy and wind; buildings that can penetrate the airspace). An airport's influence goes beyond the runways and physical boundaries of the facility. LandPlan missed the target when it neglected to review the FAA's circulars on airport land use; and Planning staff should have caught this during initial reviews. That said, Commissioner Thellman thoughts about looking out for encroachment upon the airport are proactive and a good first planning step to protect a community resource.

BigPrune 8 years ago

Since the airport is near the river anyway, an attraction for birds, and since north Lawrence is in a flood plain, and since there is all this virginal farmland in north Lawrence, - why don't they just move the airport so there isn't any controversy anymore? It seems like anything in north Lawrence causes huge controversies. Just move the damn thing and be done with it. Move it out west where it would be more appreciated.

Woodstein 8 years ago

Big Prune - The FAA is not in the habit of relocating general aviation airports unless it's an extreme situation, which Lawrence Municipal Airport is not. Burley, ID is faced with moving their airport due to transportation systems issues that constrain the airport's ability to serve clients. It will take about 10 years and an estimated $20 Million in Federal, State and Local funds to turn this plan into reality. Lawrence Municipal is well situated at its current location and for the future. It is interesting to note that alternate sites in 1929 for the new airport were considered at what is now 31st and Iowa, and somewhere on Wakarusa. Imagine how the city would have changed if either site had been selected?

BigPrune 8 years ago

They could move the airport to the old Farmland site, but that's still close to the river, however there is a business park nearby. When the SLT is completed in 10 years, Lawrence would have its I-70/K-10 access, and with the onset of the new four-lane highway 59 about to open between I-35 and Lawrence which I believe will be pushing the SLT completion when 65,000 cars are driving down 23rd Street daily, it would be taking lemons and turning it into lemonade. I wonder if there is any environmental stimulus money laying around for economic development that could be tapped?

William McCauley 8 years ago

woodstine: (quote) City Airport Staff. As part of their checklist when a development item is first conceived and discussed with their department, any development within a five mile-radius of the Airport would be considered against existing FAA A/Cs for compliance.(quote)

First you would need a city airport staff or manger and aviation advisory board, who can understand the FAR's let alone any AC's and knowing how to go about looking them up would also help, as well as people who can understand them.

It might be best to have them start by read this first so they can operate as the contract states!

Might also want get Mr. Airspace & Operations, Richard H. to read a comply with AC 90-66a$FILE/AC90-66A.pdf

And while were at it staff might need to learn all about AC 150/5190-6: And we can't leave out AC 150/5190-7:

Over all the airport manger and city staff seem to lack proper guidance from those who the mayor has appointed to advise the city, It's clear many need some real education that can be found at and maybe the best place for them to start would be here:

Then again until the proper authorities step in a force them to comply it will be business as usual, City of Lawrence should be more worried about the bad advice their getting from former AAB chairman, now good ol homeboy consultant over at ADG & his followers on the AAB being the cause of losing the additional federal funding they are currently seeking for not being in compliance with FAA order 5190.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Learning about the FAA regulation in depth is an intelligent approach to the situation.

The FAA has been studying this problem for decades not to mention planes have been brought down as a result of birds getting sucked into jet engines.

Why not respect FAA regulations?

Simply because our Chamber of Commerce believes the FAA does not know what it is talking about is no reason to reject or violate FAA regulations. This would be more dumb economics.

Woodstein 8 years ago

TheBigW - You level serious charges against the city and airport board. Have you presented your evidence to the city commission or FAA?

The city needs community volunteers for its multiple advisory boards so why not get involved at the airport and demonstrate the leadership you espouse through the various links in your post. You obviously are an expert on aviation issues so why not work with the city and airport board to improve the Lawrence Municipal Airport. These community volunteers donate many hours of personal time to serve the city so why disrespect them over a difference of opinion?

Or is possible that you've simply had a bad experience at the airport and desire to trash all positive things that group has done over the past decade to create a valued community resource? It's much easy to sit on the fence and throw mudballs, than roll up your sleeve to work with a group to resolve issues.

Perhaps - TheBigW stands for 'The Big Whiner'?

William McCauley 8 years ago

merrill says: (quote)Simply because our Chamber of Commerce believes the FAA does not know what it is talking about is no reason to reject or violate FAA regulations. (quote)

The past members as well as the current volunteer citizens that make up the airport advisory board, (Mr. Kern is AAB member) along with the current airport manger, have in the past as well as currently been willing to violate the grant assurances contained in FAA order 5190, by doing so they are risking the repayment of the federal funding of the past 11.5 million plus interest should the FAA go after it, but they also are risking all current and future requests for funding as well. The AAB and city hall have a history of violating peoples legal rights to access the national airspace system, they have gotten away with it in the past because no one cared enough to stand up to them and point out the error of their ways, while not an easy fight it is one that can and will be won in due time.

Of the people, by the people, for the people....... Not, of the people, paid for by the people, and only for the select class of people.

City of Lawrence would be better off by getting rid of ADG (airport development group) and finding another consulting firm and to replace all the current members of the aviation advisory board with some people who don't discriminate and can read and clearly understand the obligations to the federal government. Having an airport manger who has experience in running an airport and complying with federal aviation regulations might be a good thing to have as well, instead of the job landing in the lap of the director of public works because the city is cheap to hire and real manger.

Might also be a good idea to remove the FBO's name form the cities website listing the FBO as airport management, when he is also (along with the city) clearly discriminatory to types, kind and classes of FAA approved aeronautical activities they don't see fit to use this public general aviation airport in class E airspace.

Woodstein 8 years ago

TheBigW -

I had high hopes for you that you would be the type to volunteer your service and work with the system to correct these serious allegations you suggest.

Alas, you're just a whiner who chooses to blame others and sully their good name without presenting evidence or documentation. Your ramblings present to me an individual who is angry at the world and believes they are owed something.

How sad . . .

PS - you might be taken more seriously if you learn to spell or at least buy a spell-checker.

William McCauley 8 years ago


The Big W is poking fun of the movie it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world, not that you need to know, yet funny how you stoop to calling people names and getting bent about typo's, not a surprise coming from a supporter.

City Commission members have no interest in hearing about these problems, they foolishly and blindly trust their advisory board, when they should be reading FAA order 5190 and the FAR's.

The FAA on the other hand has a real interest in such information and currently is acting to resolve the breach of contractual obligations called grant assurances, those are things the City said they would do in exchange for tax dollars.

When AAB members and airport manger choose to knowingly disregard the FAR's and violate others rights they are afforded and use regularly, and go out of their way not only not read FAA order 5190 and applicable FAR's and AC's provided to them (It's their job to know all this if your going to advise the city on aviation law/regulation!!!), they choose their actions in order to advance the wishes of a few select people who use the airport, than I'm going have a hard time respecting them or their actions.

If the City and AAB members were able to comply with the contractual obligations under federal funding and the national airspace act then people would be willing to work with them, however not in their current discriminatory and harassing mindset.

I'm no expert, but thanks for the flowers none the same. I am an educated user of the national airspace system for the last 30+ years, I can read and understand the FAR's and AC's and if I don't have a clear answer, I know where to go look to find it, should I not find it or not understand it, I know who to call............ The FAA!

Not a group of citizens who think they know the answers such as this gem: "there is no usable airspace here" as stated time & time again by one Richard Haig the current chairman of the AAB. And you think I should respect this type of pete moss answer from not only a airman ticket holder but an advisor to the City, yea right!

Sounds like Mr. Haig needs some remedial education in airport operations & obligations of federal funded airports, airspace rules and VFR!

And as for your rude ramblings about being owed something, I'm only owed the same and equal rights as any other citizen of the USA, that means the right to access the national airspace system if I choose too do so, same as you or any other type , kind or class of approved aeronautical activity.

Have a good day.

Woodstein 8 years ago

TheBigW -

I enjoyed that flick also.

So coach me - I see airplanes take off and land all the time from Lawrence Municipal Airport - isn't that aeronautical activity, or is this a broader definition?

Have you presented these concerns to the city commission or FAA? Your allegations appear to be serious so you must have some evidence? Have you been denied the right to take off and land at the airport?

I struggle with trying to understand your posts because you pound on the same theme without specifics so that draws a conclusion to me that you're simply whining about personality conflicts.

Also, research shows that individuals are perceived more favorably in debate when speaking correctly or writing appropriately - including proper spelling. Just trying to coach you.

You have a good day too, and good luck!

Aussie 8 years ago

The Big W I see all this complaining about rights being taken away from the lawrence airport. Is there something that the AAB has done to you? From my standpoint I completely agree with woodstein, if you know all of this aviation information why not use it by helping the airport out?

William McCauley 8 years ago

(quote) if you know all of this aviation information why not use it by helping the airport out? (quote)

What makes you think I have not made the effort? I have in fact made a number of trips to city hall to talk about these issues with city leaders. I have at a number of times tried to reach out to the commissioners and copied them on a number of email exchanges on these issues. You can not inform or "help" to understand those who wish to remain misinformed.

Again have a good day, I have work to do now.

JLMflys 8 years ago

TheBigW has a problem with the AAB because they didn't like a proposal he made to the board for a skydiving operation at LWC (Lawrence Airport). I believe his proposal was denied because he didn't have a well thought out business plan and he couldn't get insurance for his operation. These are some of the very basic items that have to be in place so the AAB can make an informed decision and recommendation to the city fathers.

As far as TheBigW being an expert at FAA regulations, I beg to differ. He is upset and loosely interprets the Regulations. He is trying to put a square block is a round hole.

{ In accordance with the FAA Airport and Airway Improvement Act of l982, 49U.S.C. § 47101, et seq., 49 U.S.C. § 40103(e), and the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant assurances, the owner or operator of any airport that has been developed or improved with Federal grant assistance is required to operate the airport for the use and benefit of the public and to make it available for all types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical activity and without granting an exclusive right. (1) The Surplus Property Act of l944 (as amended by 49 U.S.C., §§ 47151-47153) contains parallel obligations under its terms for the conveyance of Federal property for airport purposes.}

This paragraph from the FAA Advisory Circular 5190 (AC-5190) states an airport that has received federal grant money can not give any one exclusive rights to the airport and have to make the airport available to all [legit] types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical activity. The city fathers have more then FAA rules and regulations to deal with. They have to protect all people that my or could be affected by the decisions they make. Wow, it would be so simple if their was only one governing body to deal with, but or society is very complex and cooperation by all must happen. Compromise is key.

Now when TheBigW knocks the edges off his square block by; putting together a proper business plan, finds adequate insurance, address safety concerns, and follows all rules, regulations and laws, the city would grant him the access he so desires.

As far as I know, no one with a legit operation has been denied access to LWC. The AAB, airport management and the city is doing a great job and it shows. The Lawrence airport is one of the best airports in NE Kansas.

Unclebuck 8 years ago

If you look at a map at the airport, there are three large bodies of water at the end of the runway on the north. Along with a number of ponds, lakes and the river within this radius, I find this argument idiotic. Quit using excuses to drive out "Big Concrete".

JLMflys 8 years ago

You are right, those bodies of water have been there long before the airport was expanded so turbine aircraft could utilize the airport. They are grandfathered in and rules change as concerns come to light. Increasing the numbers of water bodies would decrease the safety of aircraft operations at the Lawrence airport, and the Kansas River is not the Hudson.

This isn't the city of Lawrence saying no to the development, the FAA is requiring the city to say no. Now as for "Big Concrete" why do they need to rape good farm land when they can get sand out of the Kansas river, or is this not possible?

Boston_Corbett 8 years ago

JLMflys: the Kansas River and bed is deemed a "navigable stream" from high water mark to high water mark, and hence is under federal jurisdiction. I don't know if this absolutely prevents sand mining, but I am sure it makes it virtually impossible from a practical point of view.

Unclebuck 8 years ago

Good farmland does not include sand. Besides, intrusion by government into private property is what really bothers me.

JLMflys 8 years ago

I do believe kansas Sand in Topeka is getting it's sand from the Kansas river.

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