Heider: State Should Get Out of Airport Zoning

The state should cede small airport oversight to local governments, said state Sen. Lee Heider to the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee


Feb. 07--BOISE -- The state should cede small airport oversight to local governments, said state Sen. Lee Heider to the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

The Twin Falls Republican introduced a bill Thursday that would repeal a 1947 state law that deemed the Idaho Transportation Department responsible for zoning and regulating airports.

Small Idaho airports plagued by encroaching residential and commercial buildings would be better would have an easier time protecting their interests while working with local planning and zoning officials, he said.

Heider's proposal would require cities and counties to consider airport zoning as part of their comprehensive planning. The bill would also require local officials to alert airport managers of nearby zoning projects to allow them to provide input, Heider said.

"Airports need to be treated like any other entity in a city," Heider said. "We want to try to avoid hazardous situations."

Heider pointed to airports in Burley and Hailey that are hemmed in by invading residential and commercial infrastructure because of poor planning.

"The airport in Burley is now in the middle of the city," he said. "Hailey's airport is next to a major highway."

The bill wouldn't solve current problems, said Kerry Requa, president of the Idaho Aviation Association, while testifying in favor of the bill. Instead, the bill it would force cities and counties to address future problems, Requa said. Requa also added that not too long ago Boise was considered a small town with a tiny airport.

"Having a safety zone is something we need to pay attention to," Requa said.

Magic Valley airport Manager Bill Carberry said that future viability was the single biggest threat to Idaho's

airports.

"This threat has brought many of us together," Carberry said to the committee.

The committee passed the bill with only state Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for amendments.

Copyright 2014 - The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho

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