The proposed expansion of the Aurora State Airport was the primary topic of discussion at the annual business meeting of the Friends of French Prairie on November 14, 2018. Attendees, which included organization members, the public, state legislators, and officials from Wilsonville and St. Paul, listened to a presentation by Rep. Susan McClain, the Chair of the Oregon Legislature House Transportation Committee.
Rep. McClain provided an update on the status of the proposed airport expansion, which would add a 6,000 foot extension of the runway, allowing the small airport to handle large aircraft. The extension would require roadway modifications on Ehlen Road NE at the south end of the current runway, and extend into and over prime farmland to the south.
If the expansion is approved, the current air traffic pattern would be routing arriving and departing large and low flying aircraft over Wilsonville and the northern portion of French Prairie. Surface traffic into and around the airport would increase in an area already suffering from congested roads.
Significant opposition to the project is building, and there are concerns that proponents will be lobbying legislators and the State Aviation Board to create a one-up bill at the upcoming legislative session to approve the expansion, thereby circumventing Oregon land use laws.
The issue is proving to be a divisive one for the City of Aurora, with residents on both sides. The divisions extend to the City Council and Planning Commission, and was a key issue in the recent November general election.
The Wilsonville City Council is beginning to weigh in on the matter and has scheduled a town hall on the meeting at Wilsonville City Hall on November 27, 2018 at 7:00PM. Public comments will be accepted.