AAIA applauds Board vote to affirm master planning process
Aurora, OR – The Oregon Board of Aviation delivered a strong boost to the Aurora State Airport and for the safety of the community at its October 31st regular board meeting in Sunriver, OR.
The Board unanimously adopted findings that the Aurora State Airport Master Plan update of 2012 was both compatible with the comprehensive land use plans of affected cities and counties (in this case, Marion County) and in compliance with applicable state land use planning goals. Marion County supported these findings with a letter to the Board affirming that the 2012 Master Plan update was consistent with the county comprehensive land use plan. Because the Master Plan was found to be compatible with Marion County’s comprehensive plan, it was also deemed to be in compliance with state land use planning goals.
The board heard from many people, including a nearby farmer who emphasized that the master plan did not harm any farming enterprises in the area; aviation experts who explained that the master plan elements were necessary for the safety of airplanes that now use the airport; the runway extension was on land zoned for airport improvements (not farm land) and the runway extension had been contemplated for the airport since the adoption of the 1976 Aurora Airport Master Plan.
The board also laid to rest several erroneous misconceptions about the airport master planning process.
The board affirmatively concluded that the 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan, was, in fact, formally approved by the Oregon Board of Aviation in October 2011. This fact runs contrary to opponents’ claims that the Master Plan was never adopted.
The board affirmatively concluded that the 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan included a robust public process with multiple public meetings – far more than required by law. This again runs contrary to opponents’ claims that the Master Plan excluded public input from affected parties.
The Board affirmatively concluded that the proposed runway extension for the Aurora State Airport would not infringe on adjacent farm land and would take no farm land out of production; that the runway extension is necessary to safely accommodate aircraft already at the airport, rather than new classes of aircraft.
“The Board’s action was affirmation of everything we’ve been saying,” said Bruce Bennett, president of Aurora Aviation. “The Master Plan process was a good process, that the proposed runway extension is a necessary safety improvement, and that the Master Plan with the proposed runway extension meets all state land use goals and will not infringe on local farm land,”
The Aviation Board’s unanimous vote on Thursday satisfied requirements under Oregon State Agency Coordination rules and enables the process for federal environmental studies to move forward.
Businesses at the Aurora Airport provide more than 1,300 family wage jobs to Oregonians. Among other operators at the airport, the airport is home to two of the largest heavy lift helicopter operators in the world; the Life Flight network and provides key training grounds for area youth to develop high pay aviation industry job skills. In addition, significant regional employers depend on the airport to move key personnel throughout the region and the nation.