Letter: Objections to Koladza Airport plan don't hold up

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To the editor:

The proposed hangar project at Walter J. Koladza airport in Great Barrington has been met by a coordinated campaign of opposition by a number of abutters to the airport.

I previously kept a plane at that airport until I was offered a hangar elsewhere. The hangar project responds to demand from existing customers, and is critical to the airport's long-term viability, as each tenant is worth many thousands of dollars in hangar, fuel and maintenance revenue.

The abutters have raised a number of issues.

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First, they claim the hangar plan violates setback requirements from the Green River. The Planning Board vetted and pronounced the plan sound in July.

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Second is an accusation of a conspiracy between the town and airport to establish a regional jet hub at Great Barrington. That is patently ridiculous, given the airport's proximity to several large mountains, which would impede the landing patterns of larger aircraft. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits instrument approaches at night into Great Barrington for this reason. Furthermore, Select Board member Ed Abrahams has denied this rumor on the record.

Third is the issue of noise. Noise from piston propeller airplanes, most of which have 180-horsepower engines or lower, is relatively benign. According to Spokane International Airport, the noise from single-engine planes at a distance of 3,300 feet is less than that of a car driving at 30 mph at 50 feet. A study published by Purdue University equates the sound from a single-engine plane traveling overhead at 1,000 feet to that from garbage disposal. Of course, the perceived noise from the aircraft would be significantly lower, as it is outside the home.

Traffic at Great Barrington is not continuous, with the most activity in warm months, and only in good weather. The busiest times are weekend mornings and afternoons as planes depart for places like Martha's Vineyard early and return later in the day. There are very few operations after dark. In an effort to be a good neighbor, the airport has recently instituted several new procedures to further reduce noise.

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I encourage the Select Board to issue the special permit and to take this opportunity to negotiate reasonable limits on future growth and activity at the airport, assuring it will not become a regional business aviation hub down the road.

Rob Grien,

West Stockbridge


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