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Old Leighton air park issue resurfaces after 4-year lull

Kate Scheltema
Clark Galloway

Though a proposal for an air park (or airport) was approved by voters in the 2018 August primary, the project’s most vocal opponent was back in front of the Leighton Township Board Thursday night to express concerns,

Kate Scheltema, co-owner of a horse farm next door, was the main critic against Clark Galloway’s air park project that stirred a great deal of controversy five years ago. Though the matter was settled at the ballot box, she acknowledged she really hadn’t had many problems — until recently.

“We’re starting to see a lot more traffic over the farm, the barn and pasture,” she told board members, adding she remains concerned about the planes agitating the horses and presenting a safety issue.

The Township Board then voted 4-0, with Leighton Supervisor Steve Deer abstaining because he’s Galloway’s partner, to proceed with the project. Opponents gathered enough signatures to take the issue before local voters.

Since the 2018 vote, there has not been any word of further issues — until Thursday night.

Scheltema insisted there is too much flight activity over her farm. She said she has contacted Galloway. Professional Code Inspections and police officers, but is not getting any relief.

“I’m asking the question, and I think I know the answer: ‘There’s nothing you can do.’”

Township Supervisor Steve Wolbrink tried to assure Scheltema that “He (Galloway) is trying to stay away from you.”

She reiterated her problem with the wording of the ballot issue in 2018, “It’s not just a private air strip, it’s an airport.”

Wolbrink said he sympathizes, but, “Once the plane is in the air, I have no control over it” and suggested she contact the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The FAA isn’t much help,” she answered, insisting that Galloway and other local contacts were a lot nicer about the matter.

Scheltema said she fought the arrival of the air park because of issues that are beginning to resurface, but as a neighboring landowner, she and her husband have lost control.

Wolbrink suggested a meeting between Scheltema, Galloway and PCI, but prospects are got good.

In other business Thursday evening, the Leighton Township Board:

Scott Griffin

• Received word that the ex-wife of Scott Griffiin, who died in a fire on Division just north of Calkins Airport, is looking into trying to sell the house and property, which have been dormant since the Dec. 5 incident.

• Decided not to enter into an agreement with Arrowaste for recycling services for $52 a month. The company’s truck would drive into the parking lot and empty the bin. However, the adjacent library already sets out its recycling receptacle out on the street.

Wolbrink quipped, “We just save the township $52 a month.”

• Fielded a request from three male visitors to pave 10th Street near the Kent County line. Wolbrink explained that Leighton has a very small road millage that takes care of current roads and Planning Commissioner Steve Shoemaker noted voters turned down road millage increases in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

• Learned from Fire Chief Matt Weston the new fire truck should arrive in September and the department has just about the same number of calls this year as last.

2 Comments

  • The road paving discussion was regarding 10th St., (currently gravel/ from 146th Ave. north to the county line, not Division Ave.

  • I have a family member that had flown out of that airstrip for over 25 years, long before Galloway purchased it. He kept his airplane in a hanger there and flew several times a week from that grass runway. I can only assume this is their best effort to stop all air traffic when the ownership changed hands since the previous farm owners that the airstrip is located on were there long before the horse farm.

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