As many as 16 municipalities in Blair County may have to adopt an airport hazardous ordinance this year imposing height and related restrictions on development near airports.
In Blair County, it would affect not only the municipalities around and near the Altoona-Blair County Airport, but also the Blue Knob and Cove Valley airports, Blair County Commissioner Diane Meling said Wednesday.
Under a section of Pennsylvania's Aviation Code, every municipality having an airport within its borders or within neighboring municipal borders is supposed to have regulations in place to ensure take-off and landing routes are as safe and as clear as possible.
Blair County Planning Commission Director David McFarland said Wednesday that the state is making money available through the Bureau of Aviation to help local governments address this requirement. An application for funds would need to be filed and approved before money is available.
McFarland predicted that the requirements of such an ordinance would have little effect on the Altoona-Blair County Airport because of measures already taken to restrict tree height and to acquire easements governing use of neighboring property.
As for the Blue Knob and Cove Valley airports, McFarland also predicted little change.
A closer look
Municipalities facing the need to adopt an Airport Hazardous Ordinance:
North Woodbury Township, Huston Township, Woodbury Township, Catharine Township, Juniata Township, Freedom Township, Allegheny Township, Frankstown Township, Blair Township, Taylor Township, Williamsburg, Duncansville, Hollidaysburg, Newry, Martinsburg and Roaring Spring
"I live less than a half mile from the Cove Valley airport ... and you could place the highest building in the county on land [near there] ... and it wouldn't break into the airport's safety zone," he said.
Meling said the idea of having the county designate an airport hazardous zone will not work.
"The county didn't want to be strapped with zoning ... and we have no means of enforcement," she said.
Some Blair County municipalities also hold a long-standing opposition to zoning. But planning commission members, appointed by respective municipalities, voiced no concern about offering support for adoption of an airport hazardous ordinance.