by Austin Marsman
More than 100 people turned out for a two-hour public hearing before the Leighton Township Board Monday evening on a proposal to develop an air park.
The original proposal was submitted more than a year ago. It called for a 3,000-foot air strip for use by 25 planes, along with 15 residences. A scaled down proposal, put forth by Galloway Landings, calls for a 2,000-foot air strip for use by five planes and just four residences. The Leighton Township Planning Commission voted 3-2 at an April meeting to recommend the Township Board decide against the air strip proposed for the corner of Kalamazoo Avenue and 144th Avenue.
All board members were present Monday, except for Supervisor Steve Deer. He is a partner in this proposed project and has excused himself from the matter to avoid a conflict of interest.
Developer Clark Galloway came before the Township Board with a presentation of his plan and said that developing the air strip would be “better than alternatives.” He also said of the project, “If not here, then where?”.
Twelve people went on record in support of the proposed air park. Some were local plane enthusiasts, others were people who believed it would be “good for the community” and that Galloway has the “freedom to use [his] land.”
Those opposing the were vocal about the potential for noise from planes, possible accidents and planes flying close to homes.
Kate Scheltema, who operates a horse farm in the middle of the proposed development, is directly affected. She trains horses for vaulting and other equestrian events and is concerned about the planes “spooking” her horses. In early June, a boarder at the Scheltema Farm was riding her horse and testified that Galloway flew overhead, scaring her horse and those nearby.
A legal representative for those opposing the air park said that the “next step is to file a petition and insist on a community referendum” if the board is to green light the proposal.
Township Treasurer Char Troost commented on the evening by saying “We’ve heard a lot of information tonight…it is time to reflect”.
PHOTOS: (Courtesy of Austin Marsman):
More than 100 citizens were in attendance at hearing at the Leighton Township Hall.
Developer Clark Galloway shares his plan
Kate Scheltema points out her property in relation to the air strip