The super siting bill to expand the Aurora Airport, sponsored by Reps. Rick Lewis and Rich Vial and Senator Fred Girod has been released and it is worse than previously indicated.
Language of the bill
- As used in this section:
- “Runway area” means a runway, taxiway, access road, safety area or runway protection zone.
- “State airport” means an airport or air navigation facility owned or controlled by the State of Oregon.
- If a state airport has at least 350 based aircraft, as reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Oregon Department of Aviation, as authorized by the State Aviation Board, may extend a state airport runway area on land zoned for exclusive farm use under ORS 215.283 (1)(z).
- A state airport runway area extension under this section may include new or expanded facilities for aviation-related equipment that support runway areas.
- A local government shall amend its comprehensive plan and land use regulations to conform to the provisions of section 1 of this 2018 Act.
- Notwithstanding ORS 197.251 and 836.610, a local government amending its land use regulations under this section or approving a state airport runway area extension is not:
- Subject to the post-acknowledgement procedures under ORS 197.610 to 197.651;
- Required to demonstrate compliance with any statewide planning goal; or
- Required to obtain an exception to any statewide planning goal.
There are some signal elements. First, even though in all the advance work the proponents of this bill talked exclusively of the need to expand the taxiway by taking EFU ag land, the bill centers on the definition of “runway area” which includes runway, taxiway, access road, safety area or runway protection zone. That is to say all of these become an outright use for the Aurora Airport on EFU land—so the taxiway expands, Keil Road closes, and ag land south of the airport may be used for the safety zone and runway protection zone. Note: land acquired for the safety zone does not have to remain as EFU ag land! Further, paragraph (3) also includes “new or expanded facilities for aviation-related equipment that support runway areas.” What does that mean – most likely instrument navigation equipment—facilities set off from both ends of the runway, which they would want to be on land controlled by the airport, not on leased land open to access.
Further, if this bill passes, the “local government” portion means that Marion County shall proceed to amend its comprehensive plan to implement these changes, and no State land use Goal exception or Conditional Use Permits need to be received.
All the land south of the current airport taxiway and runway down to Ehlen Road are positioned to be converted from EFU ag land to land (probably owed) for these various aviation uses. Then, what happens to the remaining ag land east of the airport to the Aurora City limit? The current Master Plan calls for Kiel Road to be stubbed south to Ehlen Road somewhere near the location of Vans Aircraft, so the remaining ag land gets cut in half. It is then “subdivided” by a highly trafficked road serving the airport, and the ag land is isolated from other ag land surrounding the airport. It is now perfectly positioned to be re-zoned as aviation-related commercial or light industrial.