Jet Ranch being planned for airport

People living near Carson City Airport want details about a plan to build a large hangar near the airport's center.

"A jet ranch? What the heck is that? What does that mean?" asked resident Dottie Kelley.

What's known: The airplane storage building would sit near the center of Carson City Airport on roughly 3.3 acres. The architectural firm doing the work for owner Tom Gonzales is Reno-based Licata Hansen, which foresees construction beginning in January 2008.

The building would be more than 32,000 square feet and nearly 60 feet high. Its main hangar would be 200-by-160 feet and have 12 other hangars 50-by-70 feet. Office and administrative space would take up about 8,000 square feet.

Among things not known is how large the aircraft might be that are put into the main hangar and how much more traffic it would create.

Kelley and her husband, Bill, have lived near the airport for about 30 years. A plane crashed near the Kelley's home near Apollo Drive and Hiko Court in June. It went through their front yard and crashed into their mailbox.

It was an event that left Dottie Kelley feeling extremely nervous because the aircraft passed by her at only a distance of about 10 feet, she said.

The name alone of the hangar facility being planned, she said, "kind of makes you weak in the knees."

Another resident who has lived near the airport since 1976, Ed Mees, was also surprised to hear about the plan. He is worried about any added noise that could come from more aircraft flying in and out of the airport.

Officials who sit on the airport's advisory panel approved the initial concept. They will have final approval of the plan.

It also will be reviewed by the Carson City Planning Commission and building department, and the airport engineer will review it to ensure it is within Federal Aviation Administration rules, according to Neil Weaver, an airport commissioner.

The city's planning commission could hear about the plan as early as February or March, said Walt Sullivan, community development director and a member of the airport panel. Sullivan didn't participate in discussions about the structure or vote on it.

Steven Lewis, also the newly elected head of the airport commission, is part of Gonzales' project team. He answered questions but didn't vote on the issue.

Gonzales has a 50-year lease on the land, which is near the roughly 100 acres slated for future airport development near the center of the airport.

A $25 million overhaul of the airport is planned for the next four years. Work will include realigning the main runway so the flight path is directed north, 100 yards farther away from homes on Apollo Drive. This will also require removing a hill that would impede pilots if it were to be left standing, according to Weaver.

The money comes from a federal grant being paid to the city in phases.

The runway work likely won't be finished before the new hangar is built.

Lewis said he doesn't believe the project and residents' safety concerns are linked.

"The two aren't related," he said. "It's an ideal location to store airplanes."

Another small-plane crash happened in the same neighborhood in 2001, seriously injuring a man who was watering grass in his back yard.

No one was injured as a result of the June 2006 crash, which is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. An investigation is expected to end within the next several months.

"Where's that good neighbor policy?" Dottie Kelley said. Airport officials "promised to keep us informed."

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

Update on hangar project

• Apollo Drive-area residents should expect decreases in the number of flyovers and amount of noise as a result of the airport improvements. The runway will be realigned so the flight path is directed north - 100 yards farther away from homes on Apollo Drive.

• People interested in monitoring air traffic in and out of the airport are asked to contact the airport at 887-1234. Volunteers were asked to keep track of aircraft flying in and out of the airport after a public workshop held last summer to address safety and noise complaints. Some residents expressed interest but haven't followed through.

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