Local HOA's runway rules spark conflict

Posted at 11:19 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 13:02:22-04

After a journey into the desert over a bumpy road and then a walk through a dry wash, it emerges: a neighborhood's own runway.

Not a runway for tiny drones, or model aircraft, but a runway for real-life planes.

The homeowners' association in this desert outpost near Morristown owns the airstrip. Residents can walk out of their homes, hop into their private planes and fly into Phoenix instead of taking a car.

The airstrip is part of an extension of 237th Avenue, near Highway 60. The strip itself is fenced off with the West's original security barrier, which is barbed wire.

The Thunder Park Air Park HOA plan to eliminate a safety zone, which took up part of the runway's pavement, led to a property owner's complaint. The complainant said that her private property has become the de facto safety zone.

The idea of the safety zone is to provide a buffer in case of trouble during takeoff or landing.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sided with the HOA on Wednesday in a decision that eliminated the need for a portion of the pavement on the runway's south side to serve as a safety zone.

The resident who filed the complaint, Jacoba Nobel-Frima, owns the land just south of the runway. She lives in the Netherlands.

"This is reverse Robin Hood zoning, taking from the Dutch to give to the poor, poor private aircraft owners," said Sam Coppersmith, a lawyer for Nobel-Frima.

John Anderson, a representative for the HOA, declined comment Wednesday night.