Minden may vote for bigger airplanes
MINDEN (AP) – Douglas County officials who fear a possible loss of federal funds may seek a ballot question that, if approved, would reverse a voter mandate that has limited the size of aircraft using the Minden-Tahoe Airport.
But residents opposed to larger planes have argued the airport should be maintained as a general aviation and world-class soaring facility and shouldn’t be used by jetliners and other large aircraft.
County officials contend the Federal Aviation Administration, which funds 95 percent of airport improvements, says the money could be in jeopardy because fire bombers exceeding the allowed weight use the facility.
“We’re caught between the voters’ will and the FAA mandate,” says Jim Baushke, a retired Air Force colonel who serves as the county commission chairman.
Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the issue Thursday, and could make a decision at their Feb. 2 meeting on whether to place the issue on the November ballot.
John Garvin of Minden, president of the Carson Valley Vanguard Coalition, said the organization and other airport user and interest groups want to work with the county on possible solutions.
Garvin said the groups want to protect the status of a community airport with general aviation and soaring uses. He said another vote isn’t needed.
“The people have already spoken on this issue. And the FAA hasn’t made a determination on what it’s going to do. It isn’t going to take any action until a complaint is filed,” Garvin said.
In 1984, voters approved a landing weight limit of 30,000 pounds. This was increased to 50,000 pounds for dual-gear aircraft in the early 1990s.
Since 1984, FAA grants have paid for $17.5 million in airport improvements.
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