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Politics

Lancaster public hearing on code text change - Part III
By Lee Chowaniec
Jul 4, 2013, 00:38
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Public participation

Approximately 11 Lancaster residents and 50 non residents spoke in favor of an airport text change. The language in the current Light Industrial District code Section 50-24(B)(1)(f) of the Town of Lancaster Town Code is amended to read in its entirety as follows: (f) Any commercial recreation activity including, but not limited to, private commercial airports (special use permit required). The current code instated in 1989 and reaffirmed in 2007 reads: “Any commercial recreation activity [Special Use Permit Required].

Of the 61 code change proponents, approximately half of them provided oral comments and the remainder just rendered a, “I am in favor of the airport” response. The great majority of the proponents were non-resident pilots.

Their comments were well received by the Safe Aviation Coalition of Lancaster (SACL) and their supporters. It was a 101 presentation on the positive things that take place at the airport.

It is unfortunate that it was lost on their supporters that the language change had no bearing on affecting the current operation of the airport. The opponents (SACL) to the text change were not proposing to change anything of the current airport operation, but do not want to see further expansion take place; expansion that would allow for jets, long wing span aircraft and even helicopters. The text change has the potential of making that happen.

Numerous proponents of the text change commented on the following:

• Spoke on programs like the Young Eagles, which exposes youths to the experience of flying.

• Spoke on the Angel Flight program where a pro-bono group of pilots fly transplant patients and others needing medical emergency to non-local hospitals; sometimes hundreds of miles and at costly expense to the pilot.

• Pilots spoke on using the airport for personal business purposes.

• Non-resident pilots spoke on the revenue they bring into the town by gas at the airport and visiting local businesses.

• “The Lancaster Airport also supports programs like Mercy Flight, Erie County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, Wings Flights of Hope and Angel Flight,” said James Cavanaugh of Tonawanda.

• A pilot spoke on using the airport to conduct his aerial flight photography business.

• Spoke on the potential businesses that could be generated should the airport expand and bring in corporate jets.

• Spoke on the joys of flying and that others should attempt to learn how.

• Several commented that trains and lawn mowers are noisier than aircraft.

• Spoke on how pilots come to the airport to get gas at a lesser expense than elsewhere by 25 cents a gallon.

• It’s a nice airport and should be kept in operation.

• BLA spokesperson attorney Adam Walters declared the airport is already approved to do what it already does, that it was once a conforming use, but that an oversight in a code change decades ago caused its status to change. “There are no expansion plans in place,” said Walters.

Next: Special Use Permit public hearing requested by BLA

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