Middleton Common Council expected to take action on airport master plan next week

MIDDLETON, Wis. — The Middleton Common Council is expected to take action on a new proposed master plan for the city’s airport next week.

On Tuesday, the council is set to consider a resolution that would identify a number of airport developments that include paving a new runway with the purchase of nearby farmland, expanding an existing runway, and building an additional hangar.

The master plan has been nearly four years in the making and it’s the first draft to be introduced to the common council since the city bought the airport more than two decades ago.

It’s an opportunity for leaders to weigh in on recommendations for the airport’s future.

“All the work that we’ve done for the last four years doesn’t mean anything if don’t do something with this document,” said Ald. Robert Burck, the former chair of the Airport Master Plan Advisory Committee.

Not everyone would be excited to see the 50-year-old airport expand, though.

“I think the airport though has gotten to the point where it’s as large as it ought to get,” said town of Middleton resident Paul Montague.

Montague, who has lived near the airport for more than 40 years, said he understands there’s pressure for growth but is worried about the environmental impact, including “the pollution that would come with it (and) the size of the airplanes that would be using the airport facility.”

He also expressed concerns about a potential increase in traffic and noise.

“I feel the sky is kind of saturated around here,” he said.

To combat possible environmental impacts, Burck said city leaders have plans to invest in lead-free fuel.

“We’re right on the cusp of being able to switch plans over to unleaded fuel,” he said.

And plans to pave a new runway would redirect traffic from residential to industrial areas, Burck said.

“The goal is really to keep the mix of airplanes the same and to keep the traffic at the airport the same or with just a moderate amount of growth,” he said.

A survey of nearby residents released Thursday found roughly three-quarters of respondents found the number of current take-offs and landings acceptable or totally acceptable. That same survey found roughly 60% of respondents believe a predicted 5% increase in take-offs and landings would be acceptable, but 23% said it would be not at all acceptable.

Support fell when residents were surveyed about an increase of more than 5%; the survey showed about half of residents would find a larger increase to be not at all acceptable.

If the council approves the plan on Tuesday, there are still numerous steps before changes could be made, and there would be more opportunities for public input.

An approval would allow the city to explore funding opportunities with the Federal Aviation Administration.