Monday, February 26, 2024

Blairstown Planners Seek Clarification for Airport Zoning

Blairstown Airport has existed in one form or another since at least the late 1930s, and there is no indication that it will ever not exist. But what if it doesn’t?

That possibility has been under discussion by the Township Land Use Board for a number of months, which has not quite yet reached final approach.

Currently, the airport is located in one of two areas zoned GCI—General Commercial and Industrial. The other area is located at the extreme western edge of the township on Route 94.

Robert Law, the chair of the subcommittee drafting a resolution for the zone, at the August 21 meeting said the township needs to have a contingency plan if the airport should ever cease operations and the land sold.

The GCI zone “surrounds the whole airport,” Law said. “There is a lot of undeveloped property there.”

As long as the airport is there, little to no development can take place in the zone as most of it is subject to height restrictions and other flight hazard regulations.

“But that’s not to say that the airport is not an airport one day,” Law said. “That’s why we’re having this discussion.”

There may come a point that the airport property is more valuable for warehouses and other industrial uses than as an airport.

“I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Law said. “But we’re going to be a little proactive to ensure that we don’t get some buildings going on down there that we don’t want there.”

Walter Orcutt, a member of the Land Use Board and deputy mayor, said that while it’s a good idea to plan ahead, he wanted to point out that there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that the airport will be changing anytime soon.

“Here we are talking about it, but the airport will be here long after any of us,” Orcutt said.

Any changes to the township zoning ordinance would not affect any applications currently before the Land Use Board, said Roger Thomas, the board attorney.

That would include the application submitted by Tritop Realty of Hackensack for a 73.780-square-foot warehouse in the other GCI zone on Route 94, adjacent to Knowlton Township.

Law said he hopes the board will complete the proposal to update the zoning ordinance by the end of 2023.

Discussion is expected to continue at the October 16 Land Use Board meeting although it could be placed on the agenda for the September 18 meeting.

Agendas for all Land Use Board meetings are available the township website by the Friday before a meeting.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.