OC airport a no-fly zone?
Orange County commissioners said Monday they don’t think the county is in violation of compliance issues at the airport.
West of the runways there, developer Ike Akbari is building the Cypresswood subdivision. The project costs about $5.7 million. It is also hoped by developers and city officials that businesses can be attracted there for a shopping center. In all there will be 128 units with a resort-style pool, a workout center and a poolside area. The complex is in the Bridge City school district and includes one- , two- and three-bedroom units.
However Richard Turkel, a retired attorney, told the court in a lengthy and researched presentation that at least one Texas Department of Transportation official believes the county is in jeopardy of being found in non-compliance.
Turkel is also a member of the Airport Owners and Pilots Association and Orange County Airport Advisory Board.
Apparently the official bases his theory on a 2007 re-zoning of the area by the city of Orange, that allegedly did not take into account a 1990 “hazard zone” created by county commissioners.
“They (the city) didn’t advise the Orange County commissioners, the Orange County airport or anybody else,” Turkel said.
“According to the FAA and TxDOT, family housing is not compatible with the airport.”
Turkel said he has been in contact with a “Mr. Gunn” at TxDOT but did not remember his first name.
Potential for disaster, Turkel said, could arise when radio frequency (RF) interference from the apartments, or lights from the complex could disorient a pilot trying to land.
He added that if the construction cannot be stopped, interference from lights and radio frequencies should be shielded from air traffic.
“If this is what TxDOT is saying, the court would be very interested in talking with them,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Beamon Minton.
“I can arrange that,” Turkel said.
County Attorney Doug Manning, a licensed pilot, said he’d spoken with three engineers: one from TxDOT, one from Orange County and one from the airport.
“They’ve definitely told me there is no violation,” he said. “I have no evidence other than Mr. Turkel’s … I’ve flown that approach many times, and why are we concerned about RF interference over the subdivision when the same approach takes you … over Wal-Mart?”
In other business Monday:
Commissioners voted to lower the speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph on Randall Road, Colony Lane and Colony Drive.
County Engineer Les Anderson said residents had given his office a petition requesting the change for safety reasons. “The streets there – I’ve looked at them and they are quite narrow,” he said. “I think it’s reasonable to go ahead and lower the limits.”
The court entered into an agreement with Dallas County to house Orange County inmates in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.
Also, it was approved for Sheriff Keith Merritt to become a member of a group called the Defense Logistics Agency, which allows law enforcement agencies to receive free excess military surpluses.
“There is no cost to the county at all,” he told commissioners.
Merritt will use the program to acquire several large trucks that could make their way easily through high water.
“In case we have another flood or disaster, we’d be able to get in and out of the neighborhoods,” he said.