Lake Elmo residents, MAC at odds over airport plan

An opponent of expanding the runway length at Lake Elmo Airport probably has a point about why the Metropolitan Airports Commission wants to get the project approved now.

Lynette Spitzer tells the Pioneer Press that “the MAC was pushing the expansion proposal now, before hundreds of new homes are built nearby — which would increase the voices in opposition.”

She’s right; when people build homes near an airport, the number of people objecting to airport noise grows. Which leads to the obvious question: Why would you build a home near an airport?

MAC is proposing a 3,600-foot-long runway parallel to the existing 2,850-foot runway, according to the newspaper. That’s a much shorter expansion than the one the MAC proposed in 2008, the Stillwater Gazette points out (See draft document – pdf).

That’s not a very big runway as these things go. Executive jets aren’t likely to land on a runway that short, especially when there’s a 6,491-foot runway at the downtown St. Paul airport. The proposed runway isn’t even as long at the one at tiny Fleming Field in South St. Paul.

In fact, only landlocked Crystal Airport would have shorter runways than Lake Elmo in the Twin Cities area.

Opponents also point out that the new runway would also be lit for night operations, but the current runways are already lit, too. The lights are activated by clicking the microphone for the airport frequency.

Will there be a significant increase in air traffic with an expanded runway? Probably not. The runway will still be too short for many people’s tastes, and, besides, the number of planes is declining as existing pilots grow old and die, while the cost of learning to fly is far too prohibitive to support the recreation’s future.

But, if you don’t like airports, it might be a good idea not to buy a house near one.