Builder Agrees To Relocate Homes Away From Flightpath
Pacific Proving LLC wants to build
3,000 homes next to Williams Gateway Airport (IWA) near Mesa, AZ.
Boeing said the homes would restrict its helicopter operations
forcing the company to look at moving out of the state.
Federal Aviation Administration regulations restrict how Boeing
conducts experimental flight test operations over residential
A last minute agreement was reached between the two entities
after some local and state political wrangling -- just in time for
December 18 City Council discussion on the development project.
The compromise removes some of the development's planned homes
from Boeing's flight path to elsewhere on the property. The dispute
involved about 200 acres of the planned 1,700 acres of desert on
the southern half of the GM Desert Proving Ground.
Mary Baldwin, director of communications for Boeing, told the
East Valley Tribune, "We reluctantly go in to this compromise, but
it's something that's workable for all parties. It still gives us
the ability to do our flight operations."
This had been a major issue for the aviation giant. Boeing's
plant at Mesa's Falcon Field tests the Apache helicopter, where 80
were produced just last year, pumping some $443 million into
Arizona's economy. And with four facilities at Williams Gateway and
4,700 employees, Boeing is Mesa's largest private employer.
Mark Metzger, manager of flight test facilities for Boeing, told
the East Valley Tribune that aviation firms have been challenged
for decades by the encroachment of homes around airports that were
once in the middle of nowhere, a situation similar to what was
happening at Williams Gateway.
"The decision is whether you want more houses or more jobs like
we have here."
Fortunately, it looks like both developer and aviation can exist
The compromise allows the council to vote on a major amendment
to the city's general plan, which would allow Pacific Proving to
build homes, commercial businesses, high-rise office buildings and
business parks on the desert property.
Boeing is no stranger to urban encroachment. After all, the same
problem drove the company to move a plant out of Culver City, CA,
to Mesa in the 1980s.