Port Commission divided on airport expansion

Some say plan would hurt nearby business development

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The Port of Camas-Washougal Commission has voted 2 to 1, in favor of pursuing an airport layout plan and studies related to a potential expansion of Grove Field Airport, after hearing comments for and against the issue.

Commissioners John Spencer and Larry Keister voted to pursue the airport layout plan during the Jan. 16 Port meeting, while Bill Ward voted against the motion.

Spencer, a pilot, is leading an effort to promote the possible widening and lengthening of the runway at Grove Field. The runway is 40 feet wide and 2,600 feet long. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards say runways at small like Grove should be 60 feet wide and 3,070 feet long.

Prior to the vote, Ward said Spencer had done an excellent job of creating the airport expansion proposal but described the response from area residents during a Dec. 7 meeting regarding the airport layout plan as underwhelming.

Rainse Anderson, with WHPacific, an engineering and environmental firm in Portland, reviewed the 2005 Airport Layout Plan with local pilots and other people who live near Grove Field during that meeting at the Port.

More than a decade ago, the cost of meeting the FAA’s minimum standards was listed at $9.4 million. The FAA would pay for up to 90 percent of the total cost, and WSDOT would cover five percent.

During the Jan. 16 Port meeting, Ward referred to letters to the Port commissioners and Port Executive Director David Ripp from Lynn Johnston, an owner of land near Grove Field, and Roger Daniels, a Realtor with Windermere/Crest Realty Co., of Camas.

Johnston is the managing partner of Lacamas Heritage Properties, LLC, which has 236 acres at 104 N.E. 252nd Ave., Camas, available to sell for an undisclosed price. Some of that land includes wetlands.

Grove Field is located at 632 N.E. 267th Ave., north of Camas.

Johnston said an extended runway at Grove Field would have a significant negative impact on the potential for future job growth in the future North Shore Business Park.

He mentioned the airport overlay zoning off the west end of the runway and over North Shore jobs land imposes use and building height restrictions and places increased requirements for sound dampening in the construction of new buildings.

“Extending the runway would increase the extent of this encroachment on the jobs land,” Johnston stated.

He added that a longer runway would also allow airport access for larger twin engine airplanes that are heavier, louder and fly at lower approach angles.

“This would be disruptive to attracting future corporate office development and seems counterproductive to all of the years of planning that has been accomplished,” Johnston wrote.

Daniels said he has not heard anyone in the Camas-Washougal area state support for the expansion of the Grove Field airport or for the Port to apply for FAA grants.

“They are very happy with the Port providing a quality civilian airport for privately owned planes and basic flight training with complete local control under the jurisdiction of the Port of Camas-Washougal,” he wrote.

Gary Medvigy, a pilot who lives one-half of a mile from Grove Field, said development north of Lacamas Lake would be complementary and he said pilots would support a restaurant.

Adam Brice, a pilot, said he favored the expansion of Grove Field, for safety and fiscal impact reasons.

“Bring in federal money,” he said. “It makes sense to me.”