State ‘encouraging’ city to develop zoning ordinance
By Joe VanDeLaarschot
HARTFORD — Now that work to expand and realign the city’s municipal airport was completed this year, another expense related to the airport is looming on the horizon — which city officials would prefer not to have to spend money on.
City Planner Justin Drew recently told the city’s Common Council now that the airport project is finished, the State Bureau of Aeronautics is “strongly encouraging” the city to develop an airport zoning ordinance to provide protection and preservation of aviation activity at the airport. Because of the pressure from state officials, the Common Council has agreed to hire the city’s long-time airport consultant Mead and Hunt to complete the work required to write the new rules.
“The ordinance would also protect and preserve the safety and quality of life of residences and businesses located in the proximity of the operation area of the airport,” Drew said. “This could be accomplished by establishing an ordinance that addresses both compatible land use issues and height limitations in the airport’s proximity.”
Drew said the new ordinance is not required, but state officials are basically implying “if you want more money in the future for the airport — do it.”
“The state will pay 80 percent of the cost. The contract is for $53,952,” Drew said. “The city would be responsible for $10,790 of the cost.”
Some council members asked if the city was required to bid the project out.
Drew said the city was not required to and Mead and Hunt has been involved in the Hartford airport for decades. He said it made sense to use them again because of their familiarity with the past projects, including the one completed this year.
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“I don’t believe this cost is extraordinary,” said City Administrator Steve Volkert. Volkert and Drew also suggested Mead and Hunt’s cost might even be lower than some other companies because of their familiarity with the Hartford airport.
“In fact we talked them down (in their price) by about $15,000,” Drew said.
Officials said the work to be done by Mead and Hunt would include extensive research, the study of map data and an analysis of future uses of property in the airport’s proximity.
“The work we completed at the airport this year came in under budget, so we are fortunate we can use some of the leftover funds to pay our share for this additional work,” Volkert said. “This cost will not go on the levy.”
Alderman Dennis Hegy said during recent discussion on the zoning ordinance that creating the ordinance makes sense.
“You don’t want to have a wind power project put in near the airport or some kind of a broadcast tower,” Hegy said. “This would ensure that couldn’t happen.”
The contract calls for Mead and Hunt to complete all of the work within one year.