New rules affect zoning near Tri-Cities Airport

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldAugust 21, 2013 

Franklin County commissioners unanimously approved rules Wednesday that could change what can be built around Tri-Cities Airport.

The regulations affect zoning in the unincorporated areas around the airport. Last month, the Pasco City Council approved similar land use changes for areas near the airport that are inside the city limits.

The Port of Pasco, which owns the airport, is updating the airport master plan for the first time in 40 years. The plan restricts construction of buildings, such as schools, senior centers and hospitals, that draw large concentrations of people near the airport flight paths. Buildings already in place are grandfathered in.

Outside the city limits, the area within flight paths doesn't have many large buildings. But Airport Director Ron Foraker said the plan has to take into account possible future development.

"It's good that we have got an update to the land use ordinance that will really prepare the airport in the future," he said. "We've seen so much growth occur that we've got to protect what we have."

County Commissioner Brad Peck asked port representatives if the changes to the plan could restrict farming activities that create dust or use controlled burning. He later said he was confident the land use changes would not hinder farming.

"There didn't appear to be anything in the ordinance that would affect that, nor did they indicate anything for future ordinances that would have led to those types of impacts," Peck later told the Herald.

State and federal laws require airports to set up development regulations that discourage land uses near airports that could harm air traffic, said Jerrod MacPherson, county planning and building director.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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