Canby Mayor Brian Hodson says he and the city he represents are “strongly in favor” of the proposed $37 million runway extension and expansion at Aurora State Airport. Mayor Hodson made the comments at a public hearing hosted by the Wilsonville City Council Tuesday night, citing the economic development opportunities that would come if the FAA approves the Oregon Department of Aviation’s request to fund the runway extension.
It was an unusual public hearing, given that the state-owned airport is not under the jurisdiction of the city of Wilsonville. The neighboring city of Aurora and Marion County are the only local governments the state has officially recognized in this process. But Wilsonville and Clackamas County have long asked for a seat at the table, saying the proximity of the airport means they and their constituents will be impacted by any expansion.
Tony Helbling, former Canby city councilor and currently the logistics manager for Wilson Construction, also spoke in favor of the expansion, saying it would make the area more attractive to employers interested in locating their companies here.
Helbling said the runway extension is also needed to improve safety for pilots and passengers using the airport, adding that safety has always been one of his company’s chief concerns.
But many of the 50 or so citizens who spoke during the meeting opposed the expansion. Aurora City Councilor and Mayor-Elect Kris Sallee said her city is still officially neutral on the matter of expansion, for now; nevertheless, there is “overwhelming” concern about the proposal among many residents.
Expansion opponents voiced concerns about increased traffic, the impact on property values and quality of life, and whether the proposal is really necessary and in line with the airport’s master plan.
The testimony will be compiled and shared with lawmakers and the governor, as well as members of Congress and the FAA. The Legislature is scheduled to resume its discussion of the proposal in a couple weeks.