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Jet

An F-15D Eagle piloted by U.S. Air Force Col. Jeff Smith, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, flies over Klamath Falls.

Klamath Falls and Klamath County planning officials are moving forward with the implementation phase of recommendations that came out of a 2016 Joint Land Use Study that looked at zoning compatibility surrounding Kingsley Field.

Planning officials held a public open house Tuesday night to introduce their plans for new coding language in the city and county development ordinances, with more public hearings to come as they look to bring the drafted coding in front of Klamath Falls City Council and the Klamath County board of Commissioners sometime next year.

The study addressed 28 compatibility issues, such as noise, safety and vertical obstructions, to “mitigate existing or prevent future encroachment and proactively achieve land use compatibility,” and from that, planning officials created the Airport Safety and Hazard Prevention Overlay (ASHPO) which will guide new city and county coding, if adopted by city council and county commissioners.

The ASHPO primary zones for safety, noise and vertical height requirements according to Department of Defense guidelines.

Although the study creates new coding guidelines, Wall said that as the ASHPO moves forward, getting public input on how to implement the findings is important. He said existing buildings will be grandfathered into the new format and won’t be affected by the changes unless someone attempts to rezone an area.

Wall said they’re looking to do more outreach in the public hearings to come because creating public awareness is a priority in this phase of the study.

“When it actually gets to public dialogue and in front of planning commission and city council and commissioners, we’ll have to have a lot more conversation with property owners as to what works and what doesn’t within those areas.”

The JLUS was funded by a federal grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment, and the city received a second round of funding to go toward implementation efforts, totaling close to $400,000 for both parts.

“The whole thought of this is kind of long range visioning, planning so that we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we’ve kind of inadvertently limited the capability of our airport and base installation and that we can continue those uses, regardless of future mission, into the future.”

Wall said the zoning they have planned would allow for changes at Kingsley Field, like bringing the F-35 jet here, to ensure the base can continue to develop with the changing times and innovation.

“Part of these efforts want to make sure that we’re well suited in order to be able to attract and retain and support military mission” he said.

Wall acknowledged the delicate fairness of it all between providing opportunities residents and for the airfield.

“It’s that balance of wanting to sustain the military mission, the airport operation, different economic development benefits that could happen out of that installation and facility, but then at the same time, balancing the ability for individuals to fully develop their properties within the safety zones,” he said.

Beyond the ASHPO, Wall said they’re implementing other recommendations internally among the stakeholders of the airfield, like communication and coordination strategies.

One idea Wall and his team have about ways to keep the public informed should the new coding be approved is to create real estate disclosures to inform people when properties are in noise-impacted areas.

The proposed coding would limit high-density uses that would attract a large number of people in certain zones around the airfield. When it comes to noise zoning, in the region that sees 80 decibels of noise, the plan would allow for things like manufacturing and energy generation. More noise-sensitive uses, like schools, hospitals and residential development would be allowed further from the airport where the noise is at 70 decibels or fewer.

Wall said they’re also looking at adding to the Geographic Information Systems interactive maps so that people can click on a parcel of land and see the zoning that does or doesn’t apply.

The ASHPO used by the county now is based on the 1988 Airport Master Plan, according to Bren Cox with Matrix Design Group, which consulted with city and county officials on the project, and the city’s ASHPO is based on the 2005 Airport Master Plan. Wall said that although there are different development standards between the city and county, they hope that when it comes to airport safety and noise zoning this updated study will create more similar standards between the two entities.

Wall said they intend to spread the word about their efforts and will hold a public hearing sometime in the future.

“I’d like to have more conversations with community members, with property owners within those vicinities,” he said. “I don’t want to make it seems like just all of a sudden there’s new regulations being imposed because it does have to go through quite a few more processes and when you really put things in front of the public and elected officials, that’s where the real decision-making happens.”