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Sunnyside Airport moratorium approved

Following a 15-minute public hearing last night, the Sunnyside City Council formalized a decision to put a moratorium on land use changes around the Sunnyside Airport.

The halt to changes in land use within a 1,000-foot buffer around the airport is in place because the city wants to wait until an airport overlay plan is done.

The city has in the past expressed interest in possibly expanding the airport and fears too much construction around the airport might inhibit its growth and future use.

Council initially approved the six-month moratorium last month, but by law had to have a public hearing to gather comment on the ordinance.

Don Padelford owns 120 acres that lies within the moratorium area. He spoke out against the moratorium, telling council Monday night that he's lost three real estate deals valued at $200,000 each because of the city's delay in zoning his property. He said the city by law must give zoning to a property when it is annexed.

Padelford's property was annexed in August 2007 and he has taken the city to court to seek a judicial review regarding zoning for property he would like to see used for residential housing near the airport. He initially sought the residential zoning, a use consistent with language at the time in the city's comprehensive plan, but was denied.

The only other comment last night was by Amber Hansen, manager for the Port of Sunnyside, who praised council for deliberating on its airport plans.

"I think you need to take the time to see what Sunnyside needs around the airport and protect it," she said.

More than 130 properties are impacted, ranging from residences to dairy farmers to commercial businesses, and includes property owned by the city and the Port of Sunnyside.

The moratorium is in place through March 2009, though council has the option of lifting it sooner if the airport layout plan is available.

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