Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tree Thinning Ahead For Danielson Airport (KLZD)

Clough Harbor Associates, LLP held an informational meeting about the need for tree clearing in the vicinity of Danielson Airport, on Feb. 23.

The engineering firm held the meeting on behalf of the Connecticut Airport Authority.

CHA Market Segment Vice President Paul McDonnell presented the findings of an environmental assessment report that laid out the impacts of tree removal on and off airport property.

Certain trees have been identified as penetrating corridors of airspace for the airport's 2,700-foot runway and a parallel taxiway, runways 31 and 13.

The Federal Aviation Administration has established specific design criteria for safe airport operations. That criteria includes navigable airspace, the area pilots require for the safe operation of their aircraft on approaches to runways. That airspace extends out 5,000 feet horizontally from both ends of the runway.

Certain trees have been identified as penetrating navigable airspace for runway 31 along Maple, Maryland, and Rosedale streets. A section of land northwest of the runway has also been identified for selective tree thinning. Selective thinning includes the removal of tall trees with stumps, small trees, and brush retained.

The assessment regarding tree removal took into consideration a host of factors, including impacts to wetlands, natural and biological resources, species of concern, and property values. A biological survey may be required to assess the impact of tree thinning and removal on broad-winged hawks, northern long-eared bats, and worm-eating warblers.

How those trees will be removed was the concern for most people at the meeting. Tree clearing on private property requires negotiations between CAA and property owners for the possible purchase or voluntary sale of easements based on Fair Market Value. CAA would be responsible for all permits, approvals, tree removal activity, clean up, and repairs to lawns.

Killingly Town Council Chair David Griffiths suggested that CHA and CAA provide a checklist of items for property owners to consider when negotiating agreements. Any easements agreed to would be part of a property's land records. That would tend to devalue the property.

"If we're going to be honest, let's have a checklist," he said.

Property owners could also make a one time agreement, rather than sell an easement. Such agreements would not be part of any permanent land record.

Negotiations could include everything from which trees are removed to what landscaping efforts will be completed after cutting. Typically tree removals on residential properties include stump grinding, reseeding, and potential landscaping.

A state licensed appraiser would determine the value of any easements. The value of any easement is more the burden to a property owner rather than the cost of tree removals.

"The government tends to downsize these things," Ed Grandelski said. "It's the property owner who takes the hit."

He and his wife, Nancy, own property north of the airport. They contend that the trees act as a noise buffer and any thinning will affect the overall quality of life.

Property owners Timothy and Corinne Bollinger said they'd seen pilots come in so close that they clipped tree branches on their approach to the runway. Once, the cord from a glider reached nearly to the ground on the plane's approach to the runway.

The Danielson Airport is the smallest of the six state-owned airports. Last year, 23,000 flights were recorded. That number includes student pilots practicing take-offs and landings. There is no consideration of runway extensions, according to McDonnell.

CHA accepted comments on the project through March 3. A final environmental assessment and environmental impact evaluation will be published before CAA begins the process of acquiring easements from affected property owners. McDonnell expects tree clearing wouldn't happen until after August or possible early winter.

For more information, go to http://danielsonairport.caa-analysis.com/ and www.ctairports.org.

Source:  http://www.courant.com

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