Friday, December 25, 2020

Private airstrip proposed west of Redmond, Oregon: Some neighbors opposed, others are supportive

Some neighbors are supportive, while others are not, of a proposal to build a private airstrip west of Redmond Airport and near the Maston Recreation Area.

Alex Polvi, a Deschutes County resident, wants to build a dirt airstrip on his 123-acre property off Harper Road west of U.S. Highway 97 between Tumalo and Redmond. The airstrip would be about 200 feet long, according to county planning documents, and would sit roughly 6 miles away from Redmond Municipal Airport.

Polvi said his intention is to use the strip only to fly a small bush plane once to twice a week, and that there would be no commercial air traffic coming in or out of his property. The Federal Aviation Administration sent a “no objection” letter about the proposal this summer as long as Polvi followed certain conditions, Allen Kenitzer, a regional public affairs officer for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an email.

Polvi is seeking to get a conditional use permit from the county to build the strip. The land is zoned for farming.

“When I saw having the ability to have my own airstrip was a conditional use, I was thrilled,” he said in a public hearing earlier this month.

Nathaniel Miller, a planner with the county, said these kinds of applications are unusual in the county. The last private airstrip application was processed in 2017.

Because of this, Miller said the county hopes a public hearings officer can make a decision about whether the airstrip can be compatible with the surrounding area.

“This type of proposal is rather unique,” Miller said Tuesday. “Our code criteria doesn’t get into the specifics of this kind of use.”

Several neighbors came to the hearing to support the project, describing Polvi as a good neighbor who asked them about the airstrip before he put in an application. They also said that compared to regular air traffic they see and hear from Redmond Airport, any disruption from Polvi’s flying would likely be minimal.

“I can’t imagine that it’s going to add any significant noise compared to the air traffic we already experience on a daily basis,” said Rob Ragonvich, a neighbor of Polvi’s, during the hearing.

But several others have testified against the airstrip. There were some that testified against it because they didn’t want more noise or other disruptions in an otherwise quiet area.

But most of the opposition stems from the proposed airstrip’s proximity to the Maston area, which is Bureau of Land Management land and home to several recreational trails and a wildlife conservation area. The airstrip would be about three-quarters of a mile away from the closest point of the area, according to county planning documents.

Many are also worried about the negative impact low flying aircraft could have on wildlife, especially golden eagles and mule deer.

“We’re losing wildlife habitat at an alarming rate,” Douglas Stout, who was representing the Bend chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, said in the hearing. “Please keep north Tumalo wildlife-friendly.”

Polvi said in the hearing he did not want to be the person who “moves here and ruins it for everyone,” and said respecting the natural area was important to him.

“I love the river, and the last thing I want to do is impact that,” he said.

Anyone who wants to share an opinion about the proposal can submit public comment to the county by 5 p.m. January 5. A decision by a hearings officer is expected sometime in February, Miller said.


  1. -Reads "The airstrip would be about 200 feet long"
    -Checks the graphic-
    -500 foot bar fits 4 times.
    -Okay, it is 2000 feet long.

    1. It is his own land; he can do what he wants. This is a free country.
      Two of my neighbors have put in their own airstrips in the past 25 years. They did not have to ask if they could. Rural Nebraska.

    2. Good catch. Otherwise super stol of heli.

  2. This is an increasing trend with ornithlogists and others having wildlife concerns which is a load of rubbish,animals and birds adapt to their environment and always have done so,if this was a military operation it would not even be an issue,property owners do not own the sky above their dwellings.

  3. The Court ruled that the landowner “owns at least as much of the space above the ground as he can occupy or use in connection with the land.” (U. S. v. Causby at p. 264.) Everything above was navigable air space, available to the public.

    When it comes to manned aircraft, FAA rules largely govern what is and is not allowed. Over populated areas, an airplane may be legally allowed to descend to as low as 1000 feet above the ground. While rural (sparsely populated) areas, would allow even lower flight at 500 feet above the ground. Both examples include the exception of "as necessary" for takeoff and landing while in the airport environment, which is defined as the airspace immediately surrounding the airport