REDLANDS >> Airport users are holding strong in their opposition to a proposed residential development.
The Airport Advisory Board on Tuesday recommended the City Council reject Rancho Cucamonga-based Diversified Pacific’s plan to build 55 single-family homes on 32.28 acres of land within the airport’s influence area.
“I just wonder why this sudden rush to get all of this at us,” Ingrid Biglow, board chairwoman, said. “I appreciate we had the opportunity, but it still doesn’t sit well with me. This whole package is not studied to its conclusion.”
The City Council in January agreed to postpone consideration of the project indefinitely to allow city staff and the developer to review the project following Coffman Associates’ review of the city’s airport planning documents.
The project’s mitigated negative declaration — a statement that a project will not create a significant impact or that measures will be taken to reduce any impact — was revised based on the Coffman Associate’s study and presented to the board during a special meeting Tuesday. The declaration includes 26 mitigation measures that the developer is required to follow as a condition of approval.
The airport’s helicopter flight training pattern and noise impacts dominated Tuesday’s discussion with board members and pilots in attendance. Pilots questioned the accuracy of the noise study and the feasibility of the traffic pattern.
Pilots are concerned about safety — not having open space for emergency landings — and noise complaints coming from the new residents.
The developer has said that potential buyers will be informed of the development’s close proximity to the airport.
Coffman Associates found inconsistencies among the Redlands Municipal Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, the state’s Airport Land Use Handbook and the Redlands Airport Master Plan. They also reviewed the helicopter flight pattern and noise impacts.
In November, the council directed city staff to address the inconsistencies among the documents and revise the city’s airport permit issued by the California Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division.
The Redlands Municipal Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan was updated in 2003 to relocate the helicopter flight training pattern 1,000 feet to the north of San Bernardino Avenue.
The airport permit and city code were never updated.
In December, the city submitted an application with the state to revise the permit to include an established helicopter flight pattern south of the runway, said Robert Dalquest, assistant development services director. The permit was revised last week, he said.
The helicopter flight pattern being used now is in conflict with the proposed project, Dalquest said.
“Collectively, the steps the city is taking will provide the means to mitigate this issue to a less than significant impact,” Dalquest said.
Coffman Associates did a 72-hour noise study, finding the average noise levels to be below 60 decibels.
“Now over the three days, the average for fixed wing, the noise levels were well over 60 DBI — over 70 in some cases. That was the same for the helicopters,” said Ted Gablin, president of the Redlands Airport Association.
The project approval would also include removing some of the property from an agricultural preserve, changing the zoning from agricultural to residential estate, a socio-economic cost/benefit study and dividing the property into 55 lots for single-family residences and one for open space.
The property is on the north side of San Bernardino Avenue, between Judson and Dearborn streets.
The majority of the development is within the C zone, which allows for 6 dwelling units per acre, according to the compatibility plan.
The developer is proposing to build 1.7 units per acre.
Part of the property is within the B2 zone, which does not allow for home construction. The developer is proposing to plant citrus trees and build a water detention basin on this part of the property.
In 2003, the City Council voted to move the C zone to accommodate the Redlands Sports Park at San Bernardino and Wabash avenues. The move also opened up more land to housing opportunities.
The threat of residential housing on the airport’s viability arose in 2005, when an 81-home development was proposed for San Bernardino Avenue, south of Pioneer Avenue and west of Judson Street.
The development was narrowly passed by the City Council in 2006 despite concerns from pilots and rejection from the Planning Commission.
“Seeing that the airport has been there a lot longer than houses, my concern is that we’re jumping through hoops to accommodate somebody who’s trying to develop that land for his own benefit,” Airport Advisory Board member John Loy said. “All we’re going to see from it eventually is a lack of space available for our airplanes and complaints for noise.”
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