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FAA's 'Through The Fence' Stance Could Cost Independence State Airport

Homes Have Had Access To Airport For More Than 30 Years

For three decades, homeowners at Independence Airpark adjacent to Independence State Airport in Oregon have had "through the fence" access to the public airport, one of about 40 such places nationwide.  But a tightening of the FAA's long-standing policy against such arrangements may cost the homeowners their access, or the airport its federal grants.

New verbiage in the FAA Airport Compliance Manual changes the work "discouraged" to "prohibited", and in an official memo dated last fall, the FAA re-iterated "As a general principle, FAA does not support agreements that grant access to the public landing areas by aircraft stored and serviced off-site on adjacent property." The manual changes were announced on Septemeber 30th of this year.

According to the Oregon Statesman-Journal, Independence Airpark has about 200 homes with access to the airport, one of the larger such communities in the country. Both the city of Independence and the State of Oregon have filed comments in support of the airpark and its access to the airport. "The … City of Independence supports the efforts of the Independence Airpark Homeowners to maintain their current through-the-fence status," Mayor John McArdle said in a letter to FAA Compliance and Field Operations. Gregg Dal Ponte, the acting director of the Oregon Department of Aviation, said the airport and residences have co-existed safely for many years. "Oregon … has had a safe and financially self-sufficient airport at Independence State Airport that is adjacent to over 200 residential airpark homes, many of which have been there since 1974," Dal Ponte wrote.

But FAA director of airport compliance and field operations Randall Fiertz said the FAA's policy has not changed for decades either, and it will continue to oppose through the fence access.

FMI:  www.isasg7s5.org, www.faa.gov

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