San Juan County is currently working with Landmark Designs on a development plan for this part of the valley. Creating a smart development plan is a great idea. However, developing an airport in the middle of a residential area is a bad idea and incompatible with Landmark’s plan. I cannot see any urban planner putting an elementary school off the end of an airport runway or an airport in the middle of a growing residential neighborhood.
My concerns include safety, noise, and reduced property values for the residents and property owners near the airport — which will lead to reduced tax revenue for the county. Last November we had an out-of-town pilot (which is your perfect demographic for the Sky Ranch development) crash on the nearby Old Airport runway.
The strong, shifting winds in the valley are notoriously dangerous. Who is going to be liable when a plane ends up in someone’s living room or in an elementary school’s classroom? Is the developer or San Juan County going to take responsibility? I hope we never get to the point where we have to ask that question.
Doesn’t it make sense to steer future air traffic, including visiting amateur pilots, to the renovated Canyonlands Field to avoid the safety and residential conflicts that the Sky Ranch airport will certainly bring to the valley.
If the developer really wants a “fly-in” destination, maybe he should consider developing the project out of the valley, away from residential neighborhoods. This would give potential investors the opportunity to “opt in” to the associated noise and safety issues of an airport. The proposed Sky Ranch would force current residents to live with the consequences — in perpetuity — for something they never signed up for.
A different location would also remove the black cloud hanging over Landmark’s proposed urban plan and let everyone get what he or she wants. If the Sky Ranch airport moves forward, I see a future with a lot of unhappy property owners, potential court battles and potential fatal airplane accidents. Let’s not “wait and see” — let’s have smart urban planning starting right now.