Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Tree removal on private lots near Danbury Municipal Airport (KDXR) to cost $1 million
DANBURY - The surveyors who are evaluating trees in a high-elevation neighborhood west of Danbury Airport are not to be confused with vegetation managers working across greater Danbury to clear branches from power lines.
The surveyors seen on Briar Ridge Road and Miry Brook Road are part of an expensive and complicated mission to remove trees that have grown into the western approach of Danbury Airport’s Runway 8.
The problem trees - one dozen stands of them on eight private properties - have become such hazards that the Federal Aviation Administration has banned all bad-weather night landings at Danbury until the obstructions are removed.
Since the city cannot cut back the problem trees without property owners’ permission, it is negotiating with homeowners to buy the rights.
It was not clear on Tuesday when the city would reach agreements with the homeowners and begin cutting back the trees.
“When our attorney says we have these documents in hand, we can move to the next phase,” said Paul Estefan, the city’s airport administrator.
The project is budgeted to cost $1 million - 90 percent of which is expected to be reimbursed by the federal government. Another 7.5 percent will be reimbursed by the state, Estefan said.
Although Danbury is not a commercial airport, it is important to the regional economy. With 70,000 combined takeoffs and landings each year, it is the busiest airport of its kind in Connecticut.
When the FAA banned bad-weather night landings in November, it had an immediate impact on the charter aviation business. One Danbury company said it was losing up to $50,000 each month because it had to divert flights to Westchester County Airport on the Greenwich border.
Estefan said the FAA had previously allowed the city to warn aircraft of tree obstructions on the airport’s western approach with blinking lights on 70-foot poles.
“Now, they change the rules,” Estefan said on Tuesday.
He added Danbury was not unique.
“There are 580 airports across the country that have the same problem,” he said. “Thank goodness I don’t have buildings to deal with. I only have trees.”
There have been no obstruction related crashes, the airport said. A small plane did land upside down in the neighborhood in 2011. The crash was equipment related.
The last time the city removed this many trees in airport space was 2007, when it bought 10 acres on Miry Brook Road for $500,000. The FAA reimbursed the city most of the cost.
The surveyors in the neighborhood are double-checking calculations before any cutting is done.
“The surveyors are there to make sure we don’t go beyond the limits of what the FAA is looking for,” Estefan said. “I am not interested in taking down every tree - I am only interested in the ones that are safety issues.”
Posted by Kathryn on 9:07:00 PM