Originally created 08/29/00

Tree causes airport controversy



A Summerville couple is up in the air about the city trimming a tree in the approach zone of a runway at Daniel Field, but airport Manager Buster Boshears said it's the law.

Durelle and Pat Green who live next door to the towering twin oak on Ross Snellings property at Highland and Raymond avenues, said they want airport officials to elevate or change the flight path instead of trimming the tree.

"My summary is that they can't put the flight path through the top of our trees," said Mrs. Green. "This particular tree is not the point, but if the tree has to be trimmed because it's in the flight path, the flight path needs to be moved."

Mr. Green said the tree trimming brings into question how air operations are conducted at the airport.

"I want them to go above this tree," Mr. Green said. "That means take the cone which they call their flight path and elevate it and start conducting air operations at Daniel Field such that they use the full length of the runway that the city-county pays to keep in good condition instead of wheeling out and wheeling in to the terminal the way I see so many of them do."

Daniel Field Manager Buster Boshears said that the tree trimming is mandated by city code and zoning ordinance and has been going on for 30 years or more.

"And I would point out this isn't something being done for the convenience of the airport or pilots," Mr. Boshears said. "It's a safety issue, both for people that use the airport and for people on the ground, for homeowners or pedestrians along that road."

The tree is one of 13 identified by Cranston, Robertson & Whitehurst engineering firm that is encroaching into to runways at Daniel Field.

The tree protrudes 2.9-feet into the approach zone of runway from which the plane piloted by Stephen Patterson with former Sen. Tom Allgood, his wife, Thelma and their Labrador Retriever took off and crashed Aug. 4, killing all aboard. Two days later a student pilot approaching that runway clipped electrical wires connected to a security camera mounted on St. Joseph Hospice building in Daniel Village Shopping Center.

Mr. Boshears said the crash and subsequent mishap had nothing to do with the tree trimming.

"We typically do it every other year, unless we identify something in between time, but we typically have the engineering firm do the survey every other year and identify trees or any other obstacles we may have missed," he said.

Meanwhile, property owner Ross Snellings said he wanted to have a private firm trim the tree because "they have a reputation for doing it more carefully and properly than city crews often do if the city crews are not being properly supervised."

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.