HISTORY OF ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTION OF
INDEPENDENCE STATE AIRPORT SUPPORT BOARD (ISAS BOARD)
April 14, 2005
One impetus to organizing the ISAS Group was the land use issue on 22 acres that was originally planned to be Phase III of the Independence Airpark by developers Combest & Pruett, but were stopped by bankruptcy. The 22 acres was purchased by Hawkins Investments, Inc., Petaluma, CA., who planned to develop 112 high density, non-aviation, urban residential housing. This was met with nearly unanimous opposition from both Independence Airpark Homeowners Association (IAHA) and Independence Concerned Airpark Neighbors (ICAN).
ICAN was organized to plan the opposition and collect funds to stop the non-aviation type housing proposal. $100 donations were obtained almost overnight from 7S5 pilots to hire an attorney. Harry Malette and Mike Pongracz were chosen as Co-Chair, and Roberta Sedey as Treasurer. Help was sought from the 150,000 member Experimental Aircraft Assn.(EAA), the 350,000 member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.(AOPA), the 650 member Oregon Pilots Assn., and the Oregon Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division (ODOT/AD). The response was swift and unequivocal. The testimony was focused on the shortsightedness of compromising the existing aviation community and future of the airport itself, by allowing the encroachment of high density, non-aviation residential development. The AOPA emphasized in a letter to the City Council that there were an average of one airport per week being closed in the U.S. because of similar non-aviation developments next to airports. The ICAN group obtained a copy of a City ordinance from Arizona that could be adopted by the City Council to place an overlay zone of Single Family Airpark Residential. This was done for the entire Airpark area but was after the fact. The developers decided to change the development to 50 Airpark lots and be a part of the IAHA, making the ICAN effort successful.
Phil Boyer, President of AOPA, held a "Town Hall" meeting for pilots at Portland PDX in Summer of 1996. During the meeting he "Commissioned" Andy Andersen, AOPA and Oregon Flying Farmer member from 7S5 to help organize an Airport Support Group of interested pilots and organizations to keep 7S5 operating as an Airport. Andersen took this challenge to the Independence Monmouth Positive Action Team (IMPACT) for action by the long range planning Infrastructure Committee of the Cities of Independence and Monmouth in the fall of 1996. Airpark residents who served on this committee were Bill Francke, Maria Addessi and Andy Andersen.
The Independence City Manager, Stephani Johnson, called a special meeting of the IMPACT Infrastructure Committee at the City Hall on October 30, 1996, inviting representatives of 7S5 user organizations and interest individuals. The meeting was to discuss organizing an Airport Support Group to protect 7S5 interests. Those attending were: Stephani Johnson, Chair; Andy Andersen, AOPA; Chuck Grell, Independence City Councilman; Stan Kenyon, Monmouth City Manager; Gary Viehdorfer, Oregon Aeronautics; Carol Gabel, IAHA President; Sonia Cooper, M/I Area C of C Manager; Dee Bridges, Boise Cascade, Public Relations; Mac McGuire, Mac’s Aircraft Services; Harold Hayes, HALH Aviation Service; Don & Annie Thomson, FBO &
"Annie’s at the Airport"; Mike Pongracz, EAA Chapter 292; Gordon Clappison, AOPA; Ron Carroll, Ultralight Pilots; Donna Davidson, Glider Pilots; Harry Bladow, 7S5 Hangar Lessee; Joey Connell, Oregon Pines Chapter 99s; Jim Kirkendall, City Planning Commission; John Oliver, I/O Reporter; Harry Malette, HLM Air Services, Inc.; Jerry Harchenko, Agricultural Aerial
Applicator; Gene Clemens, Polk County Community Development Director; Craig Cowles, Manufacturing Engineer; Bill Francke, Polk County Chapter Oregon Pilots Assn.; and John Sedey, Independence Concerned Airpark Neighbors (ICON).
The consensus of the committee was to form an Independence State Airport Support Group and set an organization meeting for December 11, 1996, at 3 pm to be held in Harry Malette’s hangar. Harry Bladow agreed to be acting Chair and Andy Andersen, acting Recorder. At that first meeting: Harry Bladow was elected Chair; Bill Francke, Vice Chair; Andy Andersen, Recorder/Treasurer; Joey Connell, One year Director; and Harry Malette, two year Director. These officers were confirmed at the annual meeting on January 10, 1997.
Working committees were appointed to develop reports for consideration by the Board. They were: Oregon Aeronautics Advisory Committee, Harry Bladow, Chair; Long Range Planning & Development, Don Thomson, Chair; Land use Issues, Mike Pongracz, Chair; Airport History, Joey Connell, Chair; Airport Service District Study Committee, Larry Kruljac, Chair; and By-Laws Committee, Carole Gabel, Chair. Board meetings were set for every other 2nd Monday, starting on January 10, 1997.
Funding was agreed to be $5.00 donations by ISAS Group Board members and "pass the hat" donations by supporting user organizations to cover postage and printing costs. Most of the correspondence was by e-mail. $90 was donated the first year with a cost of $80.80.
The ISAS Group was organized to serve as the permanent and primary advisory group of volunteer representatives of airport users to the Oregon Aeronautics Division of ODOT and to other agencies and organizations involved with the Planning, Development, Operation and Promotion of the Independence State Airport (7S5) and the surrounding area impacted by the airport. Betsy Johnson, Director of Oregon Aeronautics Division, was pleased with the prospect of having an organized group of 7S5 users to help with her responsibility for the management of 7S5. She asked the ISAS Group Board to represent the ODOT/AD in developing the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) for 7S5 with Aron Faegre & Associates in Portland. The 7S5 ALP was completed in October 1997 and approved by FAA and Oregon Aeronautics.
In 1999, Senate Bill 108 separated the Aeronautics Division from ODOT and made it the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA). Ann Crook was appointed Director by the Governor. In 2000, the Governor appointed the Oregon Aviation Board (OAB), with Dr. Bill Wilkins, a pilot from Corvallis, as Chair. The ISAS Group continued to be the primary advisory group for 7S5 and attended OAB meetings to help develop Operating Policies for the new Department of Aviation. Some of the policies affecting 7S5 were Ingress/Egress, and leasing terms. The ISASG Board also worked with the ODA Airports Manager, Darin Griffin. The ISASG Board provided user advise for 7S5, to help focus priorities for development. Griffin allotted $1.5 million of FAA
Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants and the 10% local match for major improvements to 7S5, which was completed in September 2000. Additional AIP grants were added for 7S5 improvements in 2002 and 2004, all a part of the ALP the ISAS Group help develop in 1997.
In the fall of 2003, the ISAS Group Board became divided over the issue of land use development to protect the airport from non-aviation type development on the west and north sides of the airport. One faction believed the areas would remain in farm use because of the restrictive zoning of Exclusive Farm Use (EFU), outside the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), and therefore there was no need to worry about unfavorable development.
The other opinion was that the Governor and the Oregon Legislature were planning for changes in the EFU zoning to allow economic development. The area west and north of the airport is prime areas for such development that might not be compatible with keeping 7S5 functioning as an airport. The suggestion was for ODA to purchase the 41 acres on the west as approved for 7S5 expansion in the ALP and encourage "airport friendly" development on 60 acres west of that, such as another Airpark, and on 110 acres on the north side as an 18 hole golf course. This would forestall non-airport type development that could cause the airport to be closed in the future. To solve the division, new By-Laws were adopted in 2004 to establish a new ISAS Board and new leadership.
At this same time, the ODA was going through a change of Director and staff. Consequently, the advisory function of ISAS Board to ODA has been curtailed. With new leadership in both groups, the ISAS Board advisory function is being reestablished.
During the general election in November 2004, the initiative Measure 37 was passed into law. This changes the restrictive EFU land use zoning by allowing the land owner to request compensation from local government for loss of value caused by the restrictive zoning or request a waiver for a higher value development. Such development near 7S5 could be detrimental to keeping the airport as an airport, such as high density, non-airpark housing or other non-aviation development This negates the previous assumption that land west and north of 7S5 will remain in farm production of grass seed. Request for unspecified land use changes, under Measure 37, has been submitted by the land owner to the Polk County Planning Department for land west of the airport. This is being monitored by the ISAS Board. Land north of 7S5 also needs to be monitored to be sure development will not be detrimental for continued operation of 7S5.
HAPPY LANDINGS! Andy Andersen, AOPA/ASN 7S5 volunteer.