Private airfield lands zoning OK; needs to meet state and fed, approvals

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Ohio County may have a new private airstrip coming but it wouldn’t be the first.

Rising Sun once had an airport and there have been other private strips over the years. One of those was a 2600 foot long strip operated by Bill Parcells.

Rising Sun High School graduate Sam Chipman made a presentation to the Ohio County Board of Zoning Appeals for a proposal for a 3000′ by 100′ grass strip on the land of his parents, Jeff and Nancy Chipman, on S.R. 56 west. The Air Force Major is currently based in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

His presentation addressed many anticipated concerns. He explained landing patterns including runway 14 which has 50′ power lines and trees to deal with.

A second runway would be runway 32 for mostly single engine planes but possible twin engines when necessary.

“I don’t want to hit trees and you don’t want me to hit traffic,” he quipped. The traffic pattern will be to the southwest over wooded area and not over housing, Chipman explained.

Chipman noted he hopes the meeting will minimize any concerns.

He addressed noise levels, noting there would be day flights only at this time. The planes will be mostly Cessna and pipers, 6cyl engines with 300 hp.

The worst case noise would be at full throttle at a decibel level 88. The Watkins property across the street is within 333 feet and what would cut down to 56 decibel, below normal talking level of 60 decibel.

The Wagners live 745 feet away and the noise would be at 46 decibels. It’s better than a Harley at 100 decibels on SR 56, added Chipman.

Trees, fence line will knock noise down

There is no issue with Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG). “We have $80,000 worth of aircraft that we want to get airborne,” Chipman said.

Penny Wagner expressed concern a plane would miss the runway and a plane in distress might miss and hit her house. Also, she was concerned her property value would go down. She noted work had been going on for two years on the property and she had just learned of it.

Chipman admitted work has been going on but it’s been a learning process. We’re not trying to sneak anything by anybody, he emphasized, as the property is being inspected by the Dept of Environmental Management. There’s no book with all the answers of building a runway.

Wagner reminded the board of a fatal helicopter crash two years ago in the area.

Chipman assured her the aircrafts are very reliable and go through rigorous inspections.

When asked if he was planning to give flying lessons, the pilot said that could be in 10 to 15 years. When that happens it would have to come before board, added chairman Irvin McKinley.

Wagner thought it was going to be private for him and his dad. Sounds more public?

The definition of private is different by the FAA. “It just means I can’t charge anybody to land,” Chipman explained.

Wagner did not have a problem with noise but the closeness to her house.

Chipman received support from Troy McVey, operator of Mac’s Seaplanes, noting that 80 percent of accidents are pilot error and 20 percent by landing gear

McVey would like to have pilots land at the site and visit his business to get trained in sea landing. He offered to take the Wagners on his Seaplane and the flight pattern proposed.

There will be no fuel stored on site. They will gas up in Madison or Harrison according to Chipman. In the future a containment would have to be addressed by zoning inspector Tom Cappel (or who ever is in position at the time).

Board member Steve McAlister (who operates a private strip in Switzerland County) noted runway 32 will probably be primary in and out.

Chipman told board member Jerry Bovard that taxi will take from 500 to 1000 feet.

Chipman also clarified the location of runway 14 and the property of Cindy Bunger.

Nancy Chipman said, “if I thought my grandkids were in jeopardy they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing.”

Tiffany Chipman (Sam’s wife) said she was more afraid of the vehicles on the road than the planes landing.

Pat Brown worked for airlines at Dallas Fort Worth for 18 years and lived at the end of runway. She said, “And I’m still alive.”

Bob Hannah suggested using the site to help educate students.

The site would be designated on maps with a P with a circle. There is currently a 60′ by 60′ hanger which houses the family’s two planes.

The proposal is known as Herb’s Field after Sam’s grandfather Herb Driver.

Board president McKinley reviewed items including the special exception would not be detrimental to public safety, use and enjoyment of local property owners or diminish property value, not impede orderly development, utilities and access road along with ingress and egress were not applicable.