Developer scraps plan for private airstrip | ParkRecord.com

Developer scraps plan for private airstrip

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Developers at Promontory wanted their plan for a private landing strip in the Snyderville Basin cleared for takeoff before the proposal was grounded by public outcry.

"Everybody wants to make sure that this does not happen," Silver Creek resident Tom Coleman stressed Wednesday after Promontory Managing Director Rich Sonntag withdrew plans for the runway.

At issue was whether airplanes taking off and landing southeast of Home Depot would disrupt life for citizens in surrounding subdivisions like Silver Creek and Highland Estates.

With the nearest non-Promontory house situated more than a mile from the proposed site of the airfield, Sonntag said planes approaching the ritzy, gated subdivision wouldn’t have passed directly over any houses.

"It’s gone, it doesn’t matter," the developer told a crowd that gathered on a frontage road near U.S. 40 Wednesday to examine the site.

Sonntag insisted having a place to land commercial jets wasn’t his intention for the private airstrip.

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"This really was, literally, ‘Sky King,’" he said, referring to the popular television show from the 1950s. "This isn’t long enough for large jets. You might be able to get a Leer in here or a small Citation, but you couldn’t get anything big in here."

Sonntag said he underestimated the controversy created by a proposal to locate the runway near industrial land in the Basin.

"We just want to be good neighbors, and this is not something that we thought would be this kind of issue being down here where it is," he said.

As a condition of approval Sonntag said he expected pilots to be restricted to southern approaches and takeoffs.

"Why would we want to send people over our own neighborhoods?" he said.

This week Sonntag revealed his decision not to build the landing strip during a site visit to Promontory with Summit County commissioners and members of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission.

The announcement surprised neighbors after Community Development Director Nora Shepard said Wednesday morning that Sonntag planned to move forward with the airfield.

"I’m thrilled," said John Tuerff, president of Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, a watchdog group in western Summit County. "I’m just really pleased that they’re listening to the community and want to respond to the community in the way they have. It would be wonderful if all developers would listen so well."

Planes approaching the airstrip from the south would have likely entered Summit County near Richardson Flat then crossed over Promontory open space, according to Sonntag.

From the north, Sonntag said pilots could have approached over the U.S. 40/Interstate 8 0 interchange and the industrial park in Silver Creek with no homes situated beneath their flight paths.

But County Commissioner Sally Elliott said she received a barrage of critical e-mails and telephone calls from homeowners in the Basin who were against allowing a runway for a small group of plane owners at Promontory.

"This obviously was not a good idea," Sonntag said.