County Commissioners At Odds With FAA Over Shortening SUA
In what seems like a step backwards in this day and age of
airport expansion... commissioners in Martin County, FL have voted
to shorten the main runway at Witham Field in Stuart.
Problem is -- as ANN has reported
extensively -- the Federal Aviation Administration has
repeatedly said, "no." So high is the frustration over this issue,
local residents are actually discussing a revolt.
"Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead," Sewall's Point
resident Jon Chicky said at a recent meeting of Martin County's
airport noise advisory committee. "Let's get a striper out there
and stripe that thing off and see what happens. I think they are a
The FAA rejected the county's plan in 2006 after county
commissioners voted to shorten the runway by 460 feet at the
northwest end of the main runway because of noise and pollution
issues. The FAA cited the potential negative effects on pilots and
commerce in its decision, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Sarah Heard is a county commissioner who has met with the FAA on
the issue. She said attorneys have advised them shortening the
runway in defiance of the FAA ruling could violate federal law -
the agency would then be within its rights to take legal action
against the county, she said.
"We can make a rogue decision, and there would be consequences
when we do," she said.
Commissioner Lee Weberman also voiced frustration with the FAA's
rejection but agrees they cannot knowingly violate the law.
The county has spent several thousand dollars in lobbying
efforts, trying to sway the FAA to an approval for the shortening
plan. Several residents are just fed up with the whole process.
"I'm tired of taking all this," panel member Bill Frondorf said.
"Everybody always bows to the FAA."
A letter from the FAA's Southern region airports division
manager Rusty Chapman on August 13 said the agency was willing to
review the county's plan as long as it, in turn, "is making
good-faith progress toward finding an acceptable solution."
County commissioners will vote in the next several months on how
to best continue the fight for a shorter runway.