Dear Editor:

I live in Spanish Valley and my property borders the proposed Sky Ranch Airport. I moved here for the peace and quiet. However, the valley’s tranquillity will be compromised if the proposed Sky Ranch “fly in” development is approved.

San Juan County is currently working with Landmark Design on a development plan for this part of the valley. Creating a smart development plan is a great idea. However, developing an airport in the middle of a residential area is a bad idea and incompatible with Landmark’s plan. I cannot see any urban planner putting an elementary school off the end of an airport runway or an airport in the middle of a growing residential neighborhood.

My concerns include safety, noise and reduced property values for the residents and property owners near the airport, which lead to reduced tax revenue for the county. Just last November, we had an out-of-town pilot (which is your perfect demographic for the Sky Ranch development) crash on the nearby Old Airport runway. The strong shifting winds in the valley are notoriously dangerous. Who is going to be liable when a plane ends up in someone’s living room or in an elementary school’s classroom? Is the developer or San Juan County going to take responsibility? I hope we never get to the point where we have to ask that question.

Doesn’t it make sense to steer future air traffic, including visiting amateur pilots, to newly renovated Canyonlands Field to avoid the safety and residential conflicts that the Sky Ranch Airport will certainly bring to the valley?

If the developer really wants a “fly in” development, maybe he should consider developing the project out of the valley, away from residential neighborhoods. This would give potential investors the opportunity to “opt in” to the associated noise and safety issues of an airport. The proposed Sky Ranch would force current residents to live with the consequences in perpetuity for something they never signed up for. A different location would also remove the black cloud hanging over Landmark’s proposed urban plan and let everyone get what they want. If the Sky Ranch Airport moves forward, I see a future with a lot of unhappy property owners, potential court battles and potential fatal airplane accidents. Let’s not “wait and see”; let’s have smart urban planning starting right now.