Pilots closer to final permit

May 19, 2003 11:00 pm

To comment on the new draft of the Airport Reserved Space Permit, mail responses to Columbia Airport, 10723 Airport Road, Columbia, CA 95310. A copy of the draft is available at the airport office.

By ABBY SOUZA

For months, members of the Tuolumne County Airports Committee and pilots have been working to update hangar-rental permits for Columbia or Pine Mountain Lake airports.

But trying to please renters, county airport employees and the fire department with one three-page document is no easy task.

"The county has more than met us halfway," said Richard Collier, chairman of the Airports Committee, a county-appointed, seven-member commission that includes two county supervisors, Richard Pland and Mark Thornton.

The permits revision process was triggered when former airport Director Tim Deike sent a November letter to Columbia's nearly 70 hangar tenants and Pine Mountain's five.

In the letter, Deike said he would conduct hangar inspections. Those who did not meet permit guidelines would be asked to comply within 10 days.

Several tenants protested. At a January meeting, many said they had never been asked to follow the rules so closely before and did not understand why they suddenly had to do so.

A key issue was what can be kept in a hangar: Many renters store tools, extra gas, cars, boats and furniture in their hangars, none of which are allowed under current permit conditions.

"If she felt like it, we would have an airplane, dirt and nothing else," Collier said of Tuolumne County Fire Marshal Kary Hubbard, who must sign off on new permit requirements. "I personally feel this (new draft permit) is extremely generous."

The draft would allows items other than airplanes to be kept in hangars — as long as the hangar is maintained so that firefighters or other emergency personnel could get around inside if the need arose.

"I'm in full support of what the committee has come up with," Hubbard said.