Armand J. Dufresne, a consultant to the local airport through his work for planners Gale Associates of Bedford, N.H., summarized the facility's 20-year forecast for the Planning Board as part of a presentation on how airports and communities can coexist.
In other business, a developer looking to build a Walgreens pharmacy downtown pledged to help residents of a substance abuse treatment program find new places to live if their home is razed to make way for the store.
Regarding the airport forecast, westward migration of business and the evolution of lower-cost commuter aircraft designed to cater to smaller airports are among the positive signs, Mr. Dufresne
The airport, built in 1919, is bordered on three sides by the city of Leominster.Mr. Dufresne
outlined the state and federal rules that govern construction near airports, with measures concerning visibility and flight paths near runways.
In recent years there has been debate among officials in Fitchburg and Leominster about the role of the airport, which occupies prime real estate along the municipal border.A number of fatal plane crashes near the facility prompted calls for independent safety inquiries, analyses that found the airport was not to blame in any of the recent crashes.Pilot error was the common theme, investigators said.Mr. Dufresne
told members of the Planning Board last night that commercial and industrial developments are better than houses in close proximity to airports, and said planners had done a good job maintaining that philosophy with construction.There are some homes nearby, he
noted, and noise from the airport will always be a factor for the nearest abutters.
...Mr. Dufresne said Honda and Eclipse are developing "microjets" that would carry six passengers and serve smaller airports like Fitchburg.
The concept is families would fly from outlying airports to smaller facilities near cities like Orlando, Fla., at the same cost they would pay to fly larger commercial airlines. Using the smaller airports, however, would enable the passengers to depart and arrive closer to their intended destinations, rather than having their routes dictated by the congested aviation centers, he said.
The state has only 38 public use airports left, Mr. Dufresne
"These are the new endangered species," he
said, describing the airport as an asset in recruiting development.