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Trish Burke, an LRAA spokesperson, says the Federal Aviation Authority mandated that Bowman Field update its layout plan, but doing so meant the airport had to come into compliance with the Terminal Instruments Procedures (TERPs), guidelines that regulate the approach and departure surfaces for aircraft that use satellite-based navigational systems like GPS.
The FAA adopted the TERPs in 2007 to deal with obstructions around airports. At that time, regional airports were given a blanket exemption from the rules until they reached a trigger that would require them to comply. Burke says updating the layout plan is one of those triggers.
“As soon as we realized the impact (the safety plan) might have on the neighbors,” she says, “the authority scheduled two public briefings and sent letters to homeowners. We actually did more than the FAA requires because we want to be a good neighbor. This is not an expansion of the airport; we want people to understand that.”
However, residents are wary because the plan does include money for the LRAA to buy easements and increase airspace. This issue is something that rattles homeowners since they cannot refuse to sell. The LRAA has condemnation powers so it could use eminent domain to get its way.
Hayman says the loss of so many trees could have an environmental impact on the community, yet the LRAA will not know how many trees will be impacted until an inventory analysis is done. That will happen after the safety plan is officially adopted. The airport authority has offered to plant two trees for every one it cuts down, but it is unlikely that it would be a fair trade. The trees in the affected areas – white pines, oaks and maples that grow from 50 to 90 feet – have been estimated by a national arborist to each be worth $2,000 to $59,000. Hayman says replacing them with smaller trees means the homeowner loses property value.