Proposed trial period would test airport traffic |

Proposed trial period would test airport traffic

by Susie Vasquez

In an effort to get the right numbers when it comes to traffic demands at Minden-Tahoe Airport, county commissioners Doug Johnson and Jim Baushke are proposing a limited trial test period to allow aircraft weighing more than 50,000-pounds.

This “Prior Permission Required” (PPR) program would lift the 50,000-pound airport weight restriction for landing aircraft. The trial period would be limited to a maximum of 12 months, to record the number of aircraft weighing between 50,000 and 110,000 pounds.

Temporary removal of those restrictions would allow for the collection of more objective data. The information could be used to determine long-range goals, Johnson said.

“We want to get an idea when and why aircraft come here,” he said.

The information is critical to the development of the airport’s master plan, a process that is expected to continue for the next 12 to 18 months.

The community has asked officials to complete the master plan process before considering a ballot question that could change the weight limits, but that process requires a working knowledge of the demands at the airport, Baushke said.

“We don’t have the data,” he said.

Johnson said he considers the airport’s current weight limit restrictions difficult to enforce.

“They don’t stop a lot of people and they’re subject to discriminatory lawsuits from larger jets,” he said.

The airport has funded the bulk of its maintenance and improvements, more than $17.5 million, through Federal Aviation Administration grants. The money is granted under the provision that no discrimination be exercised against aircraft of any size.

The Federal Aviation Administration mandate concerning discrimination is countermanded by the 1984 voter-approved weight restrictions in Douglas County, which limited the weight of aircraft landing here to 30,000 pounds.

In 1992, voters approved an increase of that weight limit to 50,000 pounds and they could be asked to increase that limit again in 2008.

Over time, runway maintenance and improvements have increased the airport’s runway weight limits in some areas to 110,000 pounds. In other areas, the weight limit is considerably less.

The proposal is agendized for discussion only at Thursday’s meeting of the Douglas County Commissioners and anyone interested is invited to air their opinions.

Two other public meetings on this topic will be scheduled and public input will be taken at all meetings, Baushke said.

In other business:

• Commissioners could approve a land “write-down” as a means of helping finance the initial cost of development for Riverwood Redevelopment LLC, a retail/commercial development in north Douglas County.

Known as an owner participation agreement, this type of financing is allowed by State law if the buildings or improvements are of benefit to the redevelopment area or immediate neighborhood where the redevelopment area is located and no other reasonable means of financing are available.

The agenda item is one of the last scheduled for Thursday.

• Residents can access the most recent draft of Douglas County’s master plan at Douglas County Web site,

The document can be accessed by clicking on the “Revised 12/12/06 Draft Master Plan” in the current news box located in the lower left-hand corner of the home page.

Hard copies and CDs are available at the Community Development Planning counter, located in the Minden Inn, 1594 Esmeralda Ave. in Minden.

The revisions will be considered at the upcoming meeting of the Douglas County Planning Commission, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the old courtoom in the Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.

What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners Meeting

When: 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday

Where: Douglas County Administration Building, 1616 Eighth St. in Minden