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Keene Airport group talking trees

KEENE — A draft Airport Environmental Assessment is to be presented at the Municipal Services, Facilities and Infrastructure Committee meeting at City Hall Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

The draft plan was put together by the Dillant-Hopkins Airport Ad-Hoc Airport Obstruction Removal Committee.

The committee included community liaison members from a neighborhood abutting the airport.

Keene Mayor Kendall Lane appointed the committee in January 2013 to work closely with city-hired consultants after residents of the 100-year-old Edgewood community opposed city plans to clear trees in the buffer area that sits between the neighborhood and the city-owned airport.
The plan includes several alternatives, airport director and committee member Ed Mattern said Monday.

The committee spent the year conducting an engineering and environmental assessment of the possible solutions to the problem.
Trees have grown into the airspace that should be free of obstructions for pilots, he said.

“Trees grow and this is not an expansion of the airport, trying to expand or grow, this is simply the airport trying to maintain the existing facilities,” Mattern said.
Alternatives presented in the draft assessment vary in environmental impacts. One alternative is to move the runway in order to avoid cutting trees on the north side of the airport.

However, that would have a significant environmental impact, Mattern said. Moving the runway would impact wetlands on the south side of the airport as well as also require tree cutting at the south side of the airport, he said.
The plan with the least environmental impact and the one that is suggested above all would be to remove or cut trees on airport property on the north side of the airport as well as acquire easements from property owners in the abutting neighborhood to remove or trim trees on the private properties, Mattern said.
Public input on the plan will be taken Wednesday night as well as in written form until May 23.

The draft plan and the public comments will be submitted to the state and federal officials. The state and federal officials are to make a determination on the matter, Mattern said.

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