Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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[Bob Hill] Interloping Loppers T he $2,500 word for today, class, is "avigation." It land- ed somewhat awkwardly several times during a recent series of public meetings in connection with proposed new FFA safety and high-tech GPS standards around Bow- man Field. The standards could require the topping or re- moval of hundreds of trees from about 500 residential prop- erties, nearby parks and golf courses — although neither the FAA nor any duly designated tree counters have yet begun the grim census to verify any numbers. Avigation — which sounds like a word made up by bored English teachers — means "navigation of aircraft." To a growing number of homeowners around Bowman it means, let's all get together to do something about this. One meeting with the airport bureaucrats was held at the Breckinridge Inn, a gathering that included sightings of both ments, and offer a re-landscaping allowance of up to $2,500. Yes, this does sound like trading a National Baseball Hall RI )DPH RXWÀHOGHU IRU WZR /LWWOH /HDJXHUV DQG DQ XPSLUH to be named later. Almost worse, the strict topping of large trees, of which there are many in the Seneca Park area, can be incredibly unsightly — hold up one hand and imagine it pruned off at the middle knuckles — and is often tantamount to a long-suffering death. To be fair, tall trees next to airports can be a problem. But if their height is such a problem, then why is it — as some- one at the meeting asked — that the proposed height require- ments only apply to "vegetation" and not existing Bowman buildings, like maybe a hangar? Because, came the answer reminiscent of parental edict, the FAA said so. Only nobody from the FAA was there. Yes, this does sound like trading a National Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder for two Little Leaguers and an umpire to be named later. gas-happy SUVs and the occasional Prius in the parking lot, a sure sign that this one touches all bases. It was another of those carefully structured "community" meetings at which participants must leave their pitchforks and torches at the door, submit questions in writing, and then hope their indi- vidual questions will be asked and answered. Even if not — and the divide-and-conquer mentality applies here — par- ticipants were to be divided into "breakout" groups where more detailed maps were available but not everyone could hear and react to the better questions. Despite the somewhat gratuitous offering of a Ben Frank- lin epigram by a Louisville Regional Airport Authority mem- ber who was there to answer questions — "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins" — few of the homeowners went home even reasonably happy. To perhaps oversimplify — and much more information LV DYDLODEOH DW ZZZ Á\ORXLVYLOOH FRP ERZPDQ ÀHOG PHHW- ings-and-events.aspx — the crux of the issue is the FAA proposal projecting four newer trapezoid-shaped "aviga- tion easements" over different approaches to Bowman that will require the cutting or removal of existing trees in those areas. The proposed easements are much larger than the cur- rent avigation easements for which homeowners have been paid, and the published maps did not show their full size. Additional trees to be cut or removed depends on their size and proximity to the airport; those closest to the airport will be topped to 20 feet with those farther back — and some mature trees are more than 80 feet tall — topped at 60 feet. The Louisville Airport Authority and FAA would purchase the avigation easements. If trees are removed, the airport — DIWHU KLULQJ D FHUWLÀHG DUERULVW IRU DGYLFH ³ ZLOO SD\ KRPH- owners for two low-canopy or ornamental trees as replace- [112] LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.12 Things didn't go a lot better when another resident sug- gested that eliminating the tree canopy over her dwelling would reduce shade and add to her energy bills and was told by an airport board member that her question had "no rel- evance." Yes, there were occasional outbursts of non-scripted in- dignation from a few homeowners, but mostly things went according to LRAA plan. The citizens dutifully went home afterward, or to the mandated "break-out" sessions, and angered area residents missed a great chance to "Occupy Breckinridge." The one hopeful meeting note was that Metro Council- man Tom Owen did pledge that he and others would fund the costs of having an actual FAA member on hand at a subse- quent and less controlled meeting at the Douglass Commu- nity Center. No one from the FAA showed up, of course — something about "respectfully declining" — but that crowd was even larger and better prepared, and the LRAA board was again well represented. Unfettered democracy comes with its problems: One area UHVLGHQW LQTXLUHG DERXW D &]HFKRVORYDNLDQ 0L* ÀJKWHU SODQH she was certain she had seen at Bowman. The best question came from a woman who wondered why broader avigation requirements were being introduced at the same time new technology was also being put in place with more sensitive GPS instrumentation for takeoffs and land- ings that would seem to require less butchering of trees. Because, came the answer, the FAA said so. 6WD\ WXQHG 1RWKLQJ ÀUP KDV \HW EHHQ GHFLGHG 7KH RSSR- sition is sharpening its many legal pitchforks. Tree surveys of the affected areas are scheduled to begin later this spring. Go hug a tree while you can — or at least seek FAA approval.

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