Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fly-In Community Eyed for Carp Airport

An Ottawa developer wants to build a fly-in community -- the largest of its kind in Canada -- at the Carp Airport.

West Capital Developments Inc. has presented the city with a proposal for an "airpark" where residents can fly in and taxi their private planes to hangars next to their homes.

The proposed project, which is still in the early stages of the approval process, includes about 340 houses, ranging from townhomes to large estates.

John Phillips, president of West Capital, said the homes would range from the "affordable" to "million-dollar estates."

"We've gone to great lengths to make it a community. It's not just for jet-setters. We have standard housing, but it is aviation related."

As part of the Carp Airport re-development scheme, the plan includes an 800,000-square-foot aerospace business park, which is expected to bring jobs, and traffic, to the area.

That has some area residents worried. "We moved out to the country because it's quiet," said Jon Lajeunesse, who lives across from the project site. He noticed a city sign posted on the development site nearly two weeks ago. "We have a nice view of the forest in front of us right now, which soon may be townhomes."

Last week was the deadline for area residents to provide their views on the proposed development, but city planner Sally Switzer said community meetings will be scheduled despite the deadline.

"We use the comments to gauge whether we are going to have a public meeting in the community and in this case, we knew we would, right from the beginning," said Ms. Switzer.

The developer is buying the airport from the city, but has already started construction on a 7,800-square-foot operations facility for the site. An environmental assessment is under way.

The proposed community is intended to cater to pilots and aviation enthusiasts. There are about 500 such fly-in communities in the United States.

Mr. Phillips said the cost of running the airport would be covered by shared fees from residents and business tenants. The airport would be not-for-profit and some residents would have the option of sharing a plane with their neighbours.

But those who already live in the area aren't so sure Carp is a good location for a fly-in community.

"This is a very rural area," said Stephanie Carroll, who lives with Mr. Lajeunesse on Diamondview Road. "I don't have a problem with them expanding the airport, but the townhouse development is what is strange to me."

"It's very quiet out here and that will obviously change," Mr. Lajeunesse said. "One day someone is going to come with some money and want to build something. That's what always happens in the country."


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