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TRUMBULL COUNTY Airport zoning district to affect racetrack plan



Published: Wed, September 15, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Commissioners will consider the proposal.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Plans for a $300 million indoor racetrack appear to conflict with a zoning proposal intended to protect the Youngstown Air Reserve Station from closure.

The Trumbull County Planning Commission and Save Our Air Reservists, a pro-base advocacy group, are calling on county commissioners to create an airport zoning district covering large swaths of Vienna, Fowler, Brookfield, Howland and Bazetta townships.

Within this district, the groups want to impose zoning regulations that would limit tall buildings in flight paths to and from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

The regulations -- which mirror FAA requirements -- would ban buildings taller than 150 feet within about 2.5 miles of the airport, and buildings taller than 400 feet within about 3.5 miles.

The height of buildings would also be regulated in two wedges of land extending about eight miles from each end of the primary runway. Dense settlements, like trailer parks, apartment complexes and schools, could also be regulated in these areas.

Background

These regulations were recommended by the Spectrum Group, a consulting firm hired by SOAR to identify what local officials can do to help the air base survive a round of base closures scheduled next year.

The encroachment of civilian construction on military air bases is a key issue nationwide, said SOAR chairman Reid Dulberger. Creating an airport zoning district would show Department of Defense officials that Trumbull County is prepared to deal with the issue.

The height regulations would not be burdensome, he said, and would not interfere with efforts by the Western Reserve Port Authority to develop industrial land near the airport.

Few, if any, buildings in all Trumbull County are 150 feet tall, he said.

One building that would be, however, is the much-talked-about indoor racetrack. The 400-foot-tall building proposed by developer Bob Brant is being considered for a site very close to the airport.

"If the racetrack goes forward, and if it conflicts with zoning, we can find an alternative place to build," said Dulberger, who is also on a committee studying the track.

What's ahead

The next step for racetrack proponents will be a $150,000 study on how the $300 million facility could be financed, Commissioner James Tsagaris said. In July, Gov. Bob Taft signed a law that would allow it to receive funding through the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission.

Tsagaris said he believed Trumbull and Mahoning counties would split the cost of the study.

Commissioners said they will study the zoning proposal and asked for a meeting with township trustees.

The airport zoning proposal does not create the air space requirements around the airport, said planning commission director Alan Knapp. The proposal just creates a mechanism to enforce them, he said.

Under state law, county commissioners would serve as the airport zoning board, with responsibility for applying the law or granting variances.

siff@vindy.com




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