Lake Elmo residents, MAC at odds over airport plan

An opponent of expanding the runway length at Lake Elmo Airport probably has a point about why the Metropolitan Airports Commission wants to get the project approved now.

Lynette Spitzer tells the Pioneer Press that “the MAC was pushing the expansion proposal now, before hundreds of new homes are built nearby — which would increase the voices in opposition.”

She’s right; when people build homes near an airport, the number of people objecting to airport noise grows. Which leads to the obvious question: Why would you build a home near an airport?

MAC is proposing a 3,600-foot-long runway parallel to the existing 2,850-foot runway, according to the newspaper. That’s a much shorter expansion than the one the MAC proposed in 2008, the Stillwater Gazette points out (See draft document – pdf).

That’s not a very big runway as these things go. Executive jets aren’t likely to land on a runway that short, especially when there’s a 6,491-foot runway at the downtown St. Paul airport. The proposed runway isn’t even as long at the one at tiny Fleming Field in South St. Paul.

In fact, only landlocked Crystal Airport would have shorter runways than Lake Elmo in the Twin Cities area.

Opponents also point out that the new runway would also be lit for night operations, but the current runways are already lit, too. The lights are activated by clicking the microphone for the airport frequency.

Will there be a significant increase in air traffic with an expanded runway? Probably not. The runway will still be too short for many people’s tastes, and, besides, the number of planes is declining as existing pilots grow old and die, while the cost of learning to fly is far too prohibitive to support the recreation’s future.

But, if you don’t like airports, it might be a good idea not to buy a house near one.

  • Paul

    Why would you build on floodplains that have been bought out by a municipality and then resold a few years later because there wasn’t flooding in the intervening years?

    Cheap land.

    • Is that happening?

      • Paul

        For a local example of almost that, Fargo ND. I say almost because it’s hard to pin down exactly what is going on with their diversion of a flood diversion and just which communities are on the chopping block to save riverfront property in the city.

        • Rory Kramer

          I think you must have glanced over the section of the article that mentions that the developers/builders are moving dirt/clay to build mounds that are higher than a 100-year flood level and are subject to FEMA approval. Also, FEMA requires a surveyor to study the home’s elevation and its design, especially how vulnerable the basement is to flooding before someone can get a quote for flood insurance.

  • BJ

    I live right next to the Crystal airport. Airplane noise has went down a lot since we moved in 16 years ago, the North Memorial Helicopters moved out about 7-8 years ago and that was the bulk of the noise during the week. Weekends the little planes that do fly make about the same amount of noise as the lawnmowers in the area.

    Only fathers day weekend, the weekend the airport holds an open house am I not able to read outside because of the noise. And 99% of that is the helicopter rides.

  • David

    Just asking the question – trying to form an opinion: If “The runway will still be too short for many people’s tastes” why build it?

    • Safety. It’s too short. Extending it provides an additional safety margin for existing aircraft. I’ve come in to Lake Elmo a little hot and landed farther down that runway than I normally would have. I went right to the end of the pavement. It’s a crazy small runway.

      Also, check out the link I provided above. The existing runway is in need of repair; it’s reached the end of its useful life.

  • Paul

    Related: Living near an already established airport and then complaining about airport noise –

  • That’s a really nice airport. New Richmond is going to change significantly in the coming years once the new bridge is open. It will be interesting to see how that affects things over there.

  • Curt

    How near is ‘near’? We moved from SW Minneapolis to Edina 22 years ago, and the noise from the E/W flight paths is starting to sound familiar. When we travel in Europe, airports are well outside populated areas by tens of miles.