Concern over heavier jets on the increase

By Curtis Riggs | July 15, 2009

Council to discuss issue this fall
SCOTTSDALE – Residents apprehensive about heavier airplanes at Scottsdale Airport again voiced their concerns to the Airport Advisory Commission last week.

People living near the airport and several residents who live near airport flight paths in the Desert Foothills are worried about potential increases in airplane noise and chances of a catastrophic accident if the advisory commission, and ultimately the Scottsdale City Council, approve a change in airport operations, which would increase the weight limit at the airport from 75,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds.

At issue is the airport's initial Strategic Business Plan, which the city council is expected to act on this fall.

Scottsdale resident Bob Popow, in support of the existing rules, said, "The risk is not worth the small reward."

Linda Maley told the commission airplane noise already disrupts backyard conservations and makes it hard to hear the television. She said larger, and more, airplanes will not improve her or her neighbor's lifestyles.

Airport General Manager Scott Gray, the only person who spoke in favor of adopting the new business plan, touted it as a boon to Scottsdale tourism by boosting hotels, restaurants and other tourist ventures.

Commission members reminded the residents that bigger, and heavier, doesn't necessarily mean louder. "They will be the same planes, they will just be carrying more fuel," said airport commission liaison Annie DeChance.

Of approximately 228 people who have responded to the plan, 57 percent (131) said the rules should be kept as they are now.

The Scottsdale City Council is expected to hold a study session on the issue when it returns from its summer recess in September. This would set up a council vote on the issue in October or November.