Orange County officials unanimously approved a revised option for the John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program during a meeting this week.
Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday for the alternative plan, which includes many elements of the project alternative supported by the city of Newport Beach.
City officials announced the decision in a press release shared on Tuesday. It’s a “win” for the city, Mayor Diane Dixon said in the prepared statement.
“It doesn’t have everything we wanted, nor does it have everything the County of Orange wanted, but it is a fair solution and we are grateful for it,” Dixon said.
Proposed by Supervisor Michelle Steel, whose district covers Newport Beach, the plan is meant to be a “compromise” with a mix of general aviation at the local airport.
The proposed project calls for two full-service and one new and one existing limited-service Fixed Base Operators.
Plans also include allowing an international general aviation facility with hours limited between 5 a.m. and midnight.
“While the city wanted the facility excluded from the project, it believes the limited hours of operation is a reasonable compromise,” Newport Beach officials wrote in the statement.
It also limits medium and large general aviation jet aircraft to 25.6 acres on JWA property and designates 35.6 acres exclusively for small general aviation aircraft.
It preserves space at the airport for small GA planes by “imposing land use and lease restrictions on certain airport parcels so that more than 50 percent of the airport area available for general aviation will be dedicated to light general aviation aircraft. In doing so, the plan will help to preserve the presence of small general aviation (twin- and single-engine) aircraft, and thereby limit the amount of space for general aviation jets, at the airport,” city officials explained.
City officials called the plan “significantly better for Newport Beach” than alternative one, which was recommended by County staff.
The city and some of its community groups desire to see additional constraints placed on the project, such as: Limiting the size of the hangars to ensure they are available to smaller aircraft; limiting the hours of operation of the full-service Fixed Base Operators; and moving commercial operations, such as JetSuiteX, to the main terminal.
The county supervisors heard those ideas and noted that they could be considered for inclusion during the Request for Proposals stage of the project.
The decision is a “critical step in the process,” Dixon said in the statement.
“I thank the Supervisors for listening to the communities impacted by the airport and supporting a plan that addresses most of our concerns,” Dixon added.
Supervisors carefully considered the public feedback they received, OC Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett said in the prepared statement.
“I’m pleased that we approved this plan that will allow JWA to move forward with improvements while balancing the needs of our community,” Bartlett commented.
Dixon also thanked several community organizations, groups, and individual citizens that worked on the issue and made sure “the residents had a strong voice in this effort.”
“(They) dedicated a significant amount of time, expertise and resources toward advocating for our community and others,” Dixon said. “There’s more to come as this project develops and we will continue to work with the community and county.”
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