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County mulls airport development rules

June 23rd, 2005 - 3:49am


(Port Angeles, WA) -- The Clallam County planning commission is looking at changing the land use rules for a large section of land around the Sequim Valley Airport.

It would include almost the entire Carlsborg urban growth area and sections of land along U.S. Highway 101 and Old Olympic Highway.

The new restrictions could limit the number of homes allowed in new subdivisions and the height of any structures near the airport.

The same regulations would cover four additional airports in the county: Sekiu, Forks, Quillayute and Fairchild International in Port Angeles.

More than 200 concerned property owners attended a public hearing on the regulations June 15th. Written comments on the regulations will be accepted until June 27th.

County senior planner Steve Gray says none of the regulations would cover any existing structures, but apply only to new construction.

Most of the people who spoke at the hearing were concerned with the restrictions around the Sequim airport.

The King's Way Foursquare Church Pastor Mike Van Proyen says he brought 78 members of his congregation with him. He says the members of his church are concerned that as it grows into a larger congregation, additions to the church won't be allowed. He says the religious camp they plan to build on adjoining church property also could be stopped by the new regulations.

Several more property owners in the area around the airport say plans for development of their property could be thwarted with the new rules.

County associate planner Chad Theismann says the planning commission may be taking the heat for the new regulations now, but the driving forces behind the change are state and federal laws. He says the regulation changes are necessary to comply with existing laws.

The final decision on any changes in land-use regulations will be made by the county commissioners as the planning commission is only an advisory body.

Gray says county commissioners are required to hold at least one hearing on the proposed regulations. One of the proposed changes would limit the housing density that would bring the population above five people per acre - effectively stopping enlargement of meeting places and placing limits on new subdivisions.

No new churches or schools would be allowed within the management area. Another change would limit the height of buildings near the airport. No structure more than 25 feet tall could be built near the airport without obtaining permission from the Federal Aviation Administration. No structures more than 50 feet tall could be built in the area. By law, the federal government controls the airspace near airports because they are considered essential public facilities.


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