SDFThu 4:20 PM EDT
The Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors recently notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it will no longer use federal funding for the Bowman Field Airport Area Safety Program that was first announced in December 2011. This is in accordance with a resolution passed unanimously at its April 2016 meeting that allows the Airport Authority to proceed with the safety program without federal funds for necessary easement acquisitions and tree mitigation.
“Given the existing safety concerns for aircraft and for our Bowman neighbors, which lie at the heart of this program, we cannot afford further delays,” said Jim Welch, Chair of the Airport Authority Board. “For almost 100-years, there has been a history of tree maintenance at this airport to meet safety standards, which is the aim of this safety program by protecting aircraft, people in the aircraft and those in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
The Airport Authority is committed to complying with the FAA’s regulations while preserving the operational capabilities of Bowman Field as of February 2012, when the safety program was approved by the Board. By localizing this project, it is estimated the safety and mitigation improvements – including tree planting – could be expedited by as much as 24 months. The Airport Authority Board fully approved this decision, and the absorption of all associated program costs of approximately $3 to $4 million.
Following extensive research, as well as substantial public participation and input, the FAA, the State Historic Preservation Office and most recently, the U.S. EPA have confirmed this safety program will have no significant or adverse effects on the environment or historic resources in the vicinity of Bowman Field. “We want to be a good neighbor throughout this process; therefore, we remain firm in continuing the generous tree mitigation and landscaping components of this program that are far in excess of federal requirements and minimizes the impact to properties directly affected,” said Welch. “Also, as the result of public input related to these efforts, we plan to pursue additional tree plantings – over and above the generous mitigation and landscape components – in the immediate area of Bowman Field.”
“We thank the FAA for its perseverance and efforts with this project,” Welch noted. “Bowman Field is one of the oldest continually operating airports in the country, and the Airport Authority Board has a responsibility to preserve its safety, efficiency and viability. I believe moving forward with this program – independent of the FAA – means we can do so without delays, assuring we’re in compliance with current safety standards.” The mitigation and landscape components included in this program are:
• A two-for-one replacement of any tree removed with two low to mid-canopy trees as selected by the property owner from a comprehensive palette of trees compiled by a certified arborist.
• Consultation with a certified arborist to determine if a tree should be trimmed or removed at the homeowner’s choice and follow-up with tree trimming or removal and yard restoration.
• Consultation with a landscape architect and a landscape allowance of up to $2,500 that is over and above the cost of replacement trees.
• A one-year warranty on new landscaping and a two-year warranty on replacement trees.
• Purchasing aviation easements based on market value appraisals conducted by licensed and certified property appraisers for those properties affected.