City and state talk airpark development



INDEPENDENCE — The Independence State Airport master plan and potential business development were topics of two separate meetings held within the last couple of weeks.

On Oct. 25, the Oregon Department of Aviation and Public Advisory Committee held a meeting and open house about the Airport Master Plan project and future airport improvement projects for Independence State Airport.

Project Manager Dave Nafie led the meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half. Printouts of short-term (2019-2023), mid-term (2024-2028) and long-term (2029-2038) projects were made available.

John Wilson, ODA airport operations specialist, said the master plan is a place holder. The Federal Aviation Administration wants to see a plan, he said.

City input and funding will play a role in which projects are completed.

There is land at the airport that can serve as an economic engine for the area, he said.

The mid-term projects list includes purchasing land for west-side development.

Wilson said the state would pay fair-market value for the property and city zoning would influence what types of businesses could go there.

The short-term project list includes installing a fence, which was the subject of much discussion during the meeting.

Residents of the airpark expressed the opinion that the fence was unnecessary and that it would be aesthetically inconsistent with the area.

“Right now the fence is still in the pre-design phase,” said Matthew Maass, state airports manager. “A fence is not to prohibit, because the only way you could prohibit is 20-feet high walls. It’s about deterrent.”

He said the purpose would be to help keep animals and people off the runway.

“We have listened,” Maass said. “We have heard the concerns about the entrance to the airport. We don’t want it to look like you’re coming in to a prison, so we would take that into consideration as far as what fencing goes in there.”

It will be at least six months before there is any movement on the fence, Wilson said.

“This is the master plan process only,” Wilson said. “In May, we should have a conceptual idea.”

Targeted business analysis

The city of Independence hired FCS Group, an economic, financial and management consulting firm, to help conduct a targeted industry analysis for the land west of the airport.

FCS and the city hosted a meeting at the airpark on Oct. 30.

More than a dozen people attended the meeting to discuss what types of industries should be considered for the area.

Todd Chase, of FCS, led the discussion.

“This is an opportunity to express to the city if there is a certain use that you think should be there, what should it be? And then let the city try to work with the developer to be a little more proactive about bringing in those types of uses,” Chase said.

He said they are hoping to hear from residents and also look at what other airports have done.

Chase said there is “quite a bit” of undeveloped land and “potentially 40 acres of buildable land,” though wetlands may be a factor in actual development.

More hangars and additional flight training resources were among the interests residents expressed at the meeting.

Gary Van Horn has lived in the Independence Airpark for 42 years. He bought the third house that was built in the development, he said.

“If anything develops, it needs to protect the airport and the residents of the city,” Van Horn said. “The city needs to listen to people that live here, to start with.”

Frank Brown moved to the airpark when he retired, about a year ago.

He said he wants the new development to be in line with residents and the airport, not anything obtrusive or that gives off bad smells.

Senior analyst Tim Wood said they expect to return in late February or March with information based on citizen feedback and their research.

For more information, contact Shawn Irvine, economic development director, at 503-837-1191, sirvine@ci.independence.or.us. To give feedback, contact Tim Wood, FCS Group senior analyst, at 503-374-0679 or TimW@fcsgroup.com.



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