Lancaster held no public hearings on reliever airport expansion
By Lee Chowaniec
Feb 13, 2012, 14:31
At the January 17th Lancaster town board meeting resident Kevin Lemaster, a member of the Safe Aviation Coalition (SAC), addressed the board and told them that he has been in contact with the FAA questioning their decision to fund the airport project through the years, or to even fund it in the first place without public hearings.
Lemaster was told by the FAA that the Town of Lancaster held four public hearings, two at the Town Board level and two at the Planning Board and that the public had a right to speak and make their concerns known.
Lemaster declared that the FAA had given him four dates on which public hearings were held. Two were to have taken place on September 18, 2006 and May 21 of 2007 at the Lancaster Town Hall. “The FAA is claiming that they received information from the town that on September 6, 2006 and in June 2007 public hearings were held by the planning board on the Lancaster. There are no such town records on file indicating these public hearings took place. At the town planning board meetings no public hearings take place and no public input is not allowed; at any time.”
Lemaster attended the February 5th town board meeting and addressed the board to state that the minutes of January 17th say “town meetings” where it should read “public hearings,” which he felt he had made quite clear. Town Clerk Johanna Coleman declared the misunderstanding would be corrected.
Lemaster then submitted a copy of the document packet he had submitted to the FAA to Town Supervisor Dino Fudoli and Town Clerk Johanna Coleman for the record. The documents contain infprmation as to why further Lancaster Airport expansion as a reliever airport should be curtailed, and why the expansion should never have been funded ($10 million as of now) by the FAA and supported by the Town of Lancaster. The cover letter is quite telling by itself.
Lemaster Cover Letter
DOT Inspector General
Attn: Scott Harding
Subject: Case # H11G051CC
Dear Mr. Harding:
First of all, I would like to wish thank you for your investigation of Case # H11G051CC. I am writing today to address William Flanagan’s response to FOIA 2012-001694 regarding same.
We were quite surprised and disappointed to learn that the Eastern Division actually performed the detailed investigation of their own office. I would like to bring conflicting information supplied by the Eastern Division to your attention. I would also like to make note that I am well aware of the GAO Report on “Oversight and Funding” dated June 9, 1999 explaining the FAA lack of enforcement to noncompliant owners.
We feel it is imperative to open a new case and assign to an appropriate law enforcement panel independent from the FAA, in particular the Eastern Division. Any and all parties responsible for false accounts and applications should be held accountable and funding returned to the FAA. We are also requesting at the end of this new investigation that BQR will not only lose its “regional” status but also lose its “reliever” status as well. This letter will summarize misleading facts supplied by BQR and developers to receive funding thus far. Please note discrepancies between your Case #H11G051CC findings and accurate documentation supplied in this packet. The land transfers brought to your attention that the Eastern Conference claim is legal cost the taxpayers over $900,000.00. This was a direct result of airport withholding key information in its grant application process.
Fact: 1966 to present: Buffalo Lancaster Airport still operates under a special use permit. Refer to attachments 1 thru 6. The FAA would have had to address issues prior to grants being approved/issued in 1993. As a result, Gees Five would not have been able to pocket over $900,000.00.
Fact: KBQR was still under above restrictions in 1991 and unable to expand past 25%. Ex: One (1) twelve bay hanger and approximately 30 acres total for airport use. Ref: 1966 Town of Lancaster zoning regulations. (See attachments 7-9). Note attachment #10 permit for construction issued after special use permit expired. Buffalo Niagara International never met the criteria to receive one reliever airport let alone three. To this date, this statement is true. To this day, we would like an explanation as to why BNIA requires three (3) reliever airports.
Attachment #11 shows the GASP publication dated August 1990 claims Lancaster Airport plays an important role. To this day, nothing is farther from the truth. If zoning issues were brought to light in 1990, BQR would have never received funding.
Fact: Grant application dated February 2011 stated that BQR had 70 aircraft (see attachments 12 & 12A) and two flight schools. Your detailed investigation shows that as of April, 2011 (see attachment 13) only 37 aircraft were housed. Once again, which number is correct? This is a perfect example of the same ongoing issue with BQR and incorrect information. BQR changes information dependent on recipient.
Fact: (see attachments 14 & 15) Maps were prepared by Passero Associates for a meeting between attorneys for SACL & BQR. Please note difference between two maps. Refer to map #14 that notes BNIA airspace incorrectly. Passero tried to pass off incorrect map to support claim for longer runway. Refer to map #15 for corrected view.
Fact: (see attachments 16, 17 & 17A) first letter dated 12/11/1996 shows that McFarland Johnson was well aware of zoning issue. Second letter dated 1/6/1997 still noting problems. See letter of 1/27/1997, attachments 18 & 18A supporting the zoning restraints on BQR. Passero Associates ignores zoning issues completely.
Fact: (see attachment 19) Please note grant application dated February 2011 from BQR requesting AIP funding to cover legal expenses again. Requested funding was for a zoning issue within the Town of Lancaster created in 1991 due to withheld information by BQR & planners. It would be totally irresponsible (and possibly illegal?) to allow funding to cover airport sponsor’s expenses for legal fees as well as money for his time. To reiterate, they created their own problems. Please keep in mind BQR is a nonconforming use and has restrictions upon their special use permit. If information was not withheld, reliever status most likely would have been denied. Attachments 20-26 are attached for your review.
Fact: Your investigation claims public hearings were held by Town of Lancaster Board as well as the Planning Board. Four different public hearing dates were noted:
9/18/06, see attachments 27 & 27A, Town of Lancaster meeting agenda. No public hearing was held as noted. Pre-filed resolution #9 was for a site plan. Public input is allowed but it was not a public hearing.
5/21/07, see attachment 28 – 28F & page 29, special meeting for environmental review for BQR. No public input is allowed at a SEQR. The Town of Lancaster held a normal meeting on 5/21/07. No public hearing was held during regular session. There was another resolution passed but once again, this was not a public hearing.
9/6/06, (see attachments 30 – 30D) the Planning Board had a meeting but it was not a public hearing. Planning Board meetings/hearings ARE NOT open to public discussion.
Your investigation also noted that a Planning Board public hearing took place on May 18, 2007. This meeting never took place. The Town of Lancaster does not have documentation to support this claim. Again, the Planning Board does not allow public input. Refer to attachment 31.
To date, we have not found one town resolution or meeting that discussed or provided information to the general public on accepting master plans for 1995 and/or 2006.
Certain projects have been pulled and approved (ex: two hangers). The Town of Lancaster Clerk has never had a 2006 updated master plan. We were forced to request a copy through our Congressman. Buffalo Lancaster Airport lack of transparency has caused many negative issues.
To reiterate, no public hearings were ever held.
In addition, we would like clarification on other issues taken from your investigation. Please note that the Eastern Conference Report did not supply supporting documentation of their findings and/or claims.
Proximity: Placement of BQR and runway direction in conflict with BNIA.
Lakes & Ponds: (see attachment 12 & 12A) if this has never been a problem during construction of BQR, why did BQR request to “fill in” ponds when your investigation states that there is “no problem” having lakes & ponds on airport property at either end within 10,000? Refer to attachment 32.
Wind Rose: Your investigation would lead me to believe that by widening runway by 15’ this changes wind coverage and or direction. Currently, BQR has aircraft with wing spans of approximately 27’. The only reason for 75’ width is to allow for a 79’ wing span aircraft once expansion is completed. Refer to attachments 33 & 34. Once again, why was this airport considered when so many FAA recommendations/regulations were ignored from day one?
In addition to our request to open a new investigation, we would also request status of submitted letter dated 11/15/11 and signed for by you on 11/26/11 regarding house on 403 Pavement Road. To date, we have not received a response.
We would also like to make you aware that BQR has not paid their 2011 County & School taxes to date.
We look forward to a detailed response as well as a new Case Number for our file.
Thank you again for your time and attention to this important issue.
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