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Mather plane plan rankles residents

Those in aircraft path take issue with noisy cargo flights
By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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A recent Folsom City Council approval had some locals voicing disapproval. At the Tuesday meeting, a presentation by city staff, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Sacramento County Airports Systems (SCAS) was given to council regarding the creation of a standard terminal arrival route (STAR) for a new approach pattern into Mather Field. “We are working with contingents to propose a standard terminal arrival route, STAR, to look at where flights currently operate and provide means on how to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner to minimize noise … and pollution … for a clean aircraft,” said Glen Rickelton, SCAS airport manager. Rickelton said they were asking for city council to support the idea to move forward. Council unanimously approved. Gina Swankie, communication and media officer with SCAS, said there has been a long history of concern over noise at Mather Field. “With the transition from military to civilian, we take concerns seriously in a way to allow Mather to operate in a responsible way,” Swankie said. “Airport system continues to work with the community to address the noise issues. This is a collaborative effort to work towards solutions to environmental concerns regarding emissions, efficiency of operations and noise.” She said the approval is one effort and one step to move forward in that process. Rickelton said the next step is the environmental process so they can have this implemented by next year. “We realize that this effects Folsom, so we will continue to work forward on this and collaboratively work together on this,” Rickelton said. At the council meeting, many people spoke out against the issue. Glen Otey has lived in Folsom for 13 years and is concerned about the noise. “Sacramento County has lost $6.4 million operating Mather Airport over the past seven years,” Otey said. “Mather cargo is down to one fourth of the tonnage of 10 years ago, and FAA forecasts only 1.5 percent growth annually for 20 years. Two third of our cargo goes through Sacramento International where air traffic isn’t an issue.” Otey also offered suggestions. “FAA shouldn’t develop a STAR. FAA should stop wasting taxpayer dollars on unneeded capabilities, and urge UPS, the only regular carrier, to move back to Sacramento International where everything needed for expanded cargo operations is either in place or in the approved master plan,” Otey said. Chuck Coalson, 67, has lived in Folsom since 1968 and also raised a ruckus over noise. “I don’t see this as a solution to the problem,” Coalson said. “FAA and SCAS have claimed this in years past … and the noise reduction to keep it from having a disruptive noise impact on the residents of Folsom has not helped.” He said their plans to minimize noise won’t be noticeable by most residents. “I hope people would become more aware of their surroundings and what will happen if they make Mather the cargo hub, which they stated in their plans,” Coalson said. “It will impact so many people and be devastating to the Folsom area.” Mike Coffman, 57, has lived in Folsom since 1991. “I hope air cargo is moved back to Sacramento International from Mather,” Coffman said. “I don’t want Mather to be moved at all, it’s great for general aviation and recreational pilots. It’s a great facility and should be used, but not when affecting the general public (with) air cargo.” For more information, visit folsom.ca.us.