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6:40 AM Tue, Sept. 25th

Citizens oppose Chino Valley airpark

Courtesy/Will Waterman, Chino Valley Review
Prescott attorney Gil Shaw moderates the community meeting focusing on the Michael A. Perkins Airpark issue at the Chino Valley Senior Center Tuesday.

Courtesy/Will Waterman, Chino Valley Review Prescott attorney Gil Shaw moderates the community meeting focusing on the Michael A. Perkins Airpark issue at the Chino Valley Senior Center Tuesday.

CHINO VALLEY - Citing concerns about noise and dropping property values, some nearby homeowners remain wary of a landowner's desire to build a private airpark off Perkinsville Road.

During a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night at the Senior Center, the "Coalition for the Future of Greater Chino Valley," a group opposing landowner Tom Perkins Sr.'s proposal, outlined arguments against Michael A. Perkins Airpark.

In January, Perkins filed a request with the town to develop 1,100 residentially zoned acres of his 8,300-acre ranch for an airpark eight miles east of Highway 89 off Perkinsville Road near the Verde River headwaters. He also has applied for a conditional use permit.

In the first five years, the airpark would feature 20 hangars and a 4,500-foot by 75-foot runway with a capacity of 12,500 pounds or less for small single- and twin-engine planes but no commercial airline traffic. The runway would have one parallel taxiway for public use during daylight hours. The airpark also might have retail areas with a restaurant.

However, the project's plans over the ensuing 15 years allow for building more hangars, office space and businesses around the complex. In addition, Perkins could extend the length of the runway and taxiway to 7,500 feet.

On Jan. 17, the Chino Valley Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss the airpark.

Chino Valley council member Gloria Moore said the council has yet to examine the issue.

"We need to know the town's concerns first," she told the audience. "This is not a done deal. When it comes to the Planning and Zoning Commission, you all will have an opportunity to be heard."

About 50 people showed up for Tuesday's meeting to learn more about the proposal and ask local attorney and event moderator Gil Shaw questions.

Coalition member Dr. Art Fetter, a retired veterinarian who lives 1.5 miles northeast of the airpark, said an airpark would create urban sprawl in Chino Valley, transforming it into a place similar to north Phoenix.

"We do have a stake in this," Fetter told the audience. "In the next year, Chino Valley will reach a tipping point. We could have an airpark with a lot of urban development, or not."

The coalition argues that the airpark would rest too close to the airspace of Prescott's Ernest A. Love Field, which is 8.5 miles to the south, and cause safety problems.

"The FAA issued us a letter that says as long as we don't set up anything in particular that conflicts with their airspace, there aren't any safety issues with having an airpark there," said David Ward, an attorney with Gallagher & Kennedy.

Fetter noted that the noise levels for the aircraft flying in and out of the airpark would range from 60 to 85 decibels.

"People start to complain about noise at 50 to 55 decibels," he said. "The FAA says that noise levels at 65 decibels and above are incompatible with residential land uses."

Ward said airpark designers will work with the town to delve into the noise potential and ensure environmental safeguards.

"These are real site-specific development issues that every project has to deal with, and they'll all get dealt with," he said. "There's a misunderstanding of what the noise levels are going to be. In comparison to Prescott's airport, it has about 650 takeoffs or landings per day. We would have about 30 initially and about 80 when it's fully built out."

Tornow Associates, the airpark's architectural design team, estimate the project would take 20 years to complete in three separate stages, beginning in 2008.

Gallagher & Kennedy attorney Shelly McTee said over that period, Chino Valley could gain as many as 5,000 jobs and $25 million in gross economic benefit.

Contact the reporter at dcook@prescottaz.com