Dear Editor:

“Out of sight, out of mind,” appears to be the sentiment of the decision-makers in San Juan County regarding the proposed Sky Ranch airport in Spanish Valley. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth for the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed airport.

The old ranch airstrip that accommodated maybe one or two planes per year for the past 50 years is being transformed into a huge runway and housing development that could see hundreds of take-offs and landings each year. The safety issues surrounding an airport are well known. Eighty percent of all plane crashes are within approximately five minutes of take-off or landing. There are hundreds of residents that live within this zone already. This number will grow to thousands of residents when Spanish Valley is more fully developed. This safety issue will not resolve itself over time, ever.

Is this airport going to benefit anyone but the developer and some private pilots? Is a new airport that caters to rich pilots that want to fly directly into their driveways worth risking the lives and homes of nearby residents? Can these safety risks be mitigated by a nicely worded HOA agreement? Of course not.

I hope the San Juan County Commissioners will take into account the safety and well-being of the current and future residents of Spanish Valley, rather than caving to the whims of a developer that wants to do a unique sort of development. Let’s continue to develop Spanish Valley as a place where families want to live and thrive, and that provides residents with a much sought-after quiet and rural quality of life.

The Sky Ranch airport may be a fine idea for an area that is not densely populated, but Spanish Valley doesn’t fit that description these days.

If Sky Ranch is such a great idea — why is there so much opposition? More than 160 Spanish Valley residents have placed their signatures on a petition opposing the development of Sky Ranch.

Beverly O’Niell

Spanish Valley