Pilot gets approvalfor airstrip
A pilot with a private airstrip south of Glenwood Springs made his landing area official Monday. Dave Force, who lives on Black Bear Road in the Three Mile area, received a conditional use permit, with conditions, from the Garfield County Commissioners, despite some misgivings from neighbors.The 1,100-foot-by-80-foot grass landing strip has been in place for eight to 10 years, Force told the commissioners, with no mishaps. Force decided to make it legal when he faced a county ordinance violation for having an unpermitted airstrip late last year.Force also wants to build a 50 by 80-foot hangar to house his two airplanes.A few of Force’s neighbors raised concerns about the airstrip, from the potential hazard of storing aviation fuel on the property to crashing into cows.”I run cows up on Mountain Springs (subdivision) … Dave scatters them old cows to get them off the runway, and them cows are kind of dumb,” said Joe Dice of Silt. He wondered who would be liable if a crash involved a cow and a plane.”An old cow is not worth very much, but a plane is. What I can’t figure is if he’d have to pay for the cow or I’d have to pay for the plane,” he said.Dice also pointed out that subdivisions don’t have to put up fencing as a requirement of their land use permitting, an oversight that causes him continuing worry.”Dave is one of the few good pilots in the county I’d trust to land where he said he would,” said neighbor Matt Van Hoose, who nonetheless objected to the hangar.Force pointed out that the hangar would be built into the side of a hill and only the door would be visible.Neighbor Deak Price was concerned about a road his family uses as a driveway to its ranch that crosses Force’s landing strip. He suggested signs warning of low-flying aircraft on the road where it crosses the strip . Force readily agreed, suggesting he install one that said, “Duck.”Price also said he wouldn’t want to take down a line of trees at the end of the runway if Force felt they interfered with his takeoff and landings. Again Force assured Price that the trees were no problem.Discussion also revolved around Force’s need to store fuel on his property. Commissioner Trési Houpt said such fuel storage is a safety issue.The Federal Aviation Administration allows pilots to fuel their planes and maintain them, said county airport manager Brian Condie: “It’s a safety issue if he’s out of fuel and can’t refuel.”Force also said other ranchers around him have fuel tanks for everything from farm machinery to cars to snowmobiles.”I should be able to fuel there,” he said.Condie also noted that rural areas such as Force’s property are uncontrolled airspace.”He can bounce his tires off the ground if he wants to,” Condie said. “Regulations are different in the cities.”Other than complying with applicable FAA regulations, the only condition the commissioners imposed was that he will be the only pilot allowed to use the strip.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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