California County May Have Little Say in Agua Dulce Air Park Operations

The airport's owners continued to press expansion allowed under an existing permit; plans include an extended runway, 55 aircraft storage hangars and four service hangars.


AGUA DULCE - The county released a supplemental report Thursday that includes reactions to plans to upgrade the Agua Dulce Air Park, a small airstrip that has been an ongoing source of conflict in this rural town between the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

The airport's owners continued to press expansion allowed under an existing permit; plans include an extended runway, 55 aircraft storage hangars and four service hangars.

Meanwhile, opponents who fear that the expansion will bring more planes and noise to the hamlet of roughly 4,000 announced their concerns, a county planner said.

The new material comes after a Nov. 30 county counsel memo to the county Department of Regional Planning, which cautioned that the panel may have little power to limit aircraft operation at the airstrip. The Regional Planning Commission is scheduled to reopen permit hearings Wednesday.

``It's a memo from us to the commission that there are these additional comments,'' said Sam Dea, a county planner. ``(For the) opponents, obviously, they're not happy with what we have.''

The letter from Principal Deputy County Counsel Lawrence Hafetz said flight curfews, flight bans over residential areas or any direct changes of aircraft operation fall under Federal Aviation Administration jurisdiction, and outside the county's authority.

This would ground several proposed permit conditions that expansion opponents believe would minimize impacts to surrounding residents; they include a ban on acrobatic flying and limiting the airstrip to twin-propeller or smaller planes.

Mark Armbruster, a land-use attorney representing airport owner Wayne Spears, said his client has no intention of bringing more air traffic to the area, which opponents dispute. Spears, a local PVC pipe tycoon and owner of Sylmar-based Spears Manufacturing, took control of the air park in September.

Past owners and pilots want the airport to expand, allowing more planes, helicopters, film crews and community playing fields. Others, including the Agua Dulce Civic Association and the Concerned Citizens of Agua Dulce, want the facility to remain as it is - a rural pit stop for small planes.

The county Planning Commission in March considered revoking the airport's permit after a slew of complaints from nearby residents about noise and stunts. But the panel backed off as officials attempt to define allowable uses.

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong@dailynews.com

IF YOU GO

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 150 of the Hall of Records, 320 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. For information, call (213) 974-6409.



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