State Land Use Board Dismisses First Aurora Airport Appeal by Friends of French Prairie

The Oregon State Land Use Board of Appeals, commonly known as LUBA, has dismissed the first appeal by Friends of French Prairie concerning the Aurora State Airport and the approval process surrounding its 2012 master plan and proposed runway extension.

This appeal centered on an April 24 letter by Oregon Department of Aviation Director Betty Stansbury to Friends of French Prairie, which stated that the Oregon Aviation Board had not approved the Aurora Airport Master Plan.

Stansbury walked this statement back in a separate letter several months later, in which she “corrected and clarified” her prior statements asserted that the aviation board had indeed approved the airport’s master plan in 2011.

LUBA dismissed this appeal, on the grounds that Stansbury’s letter was not truly a “final decision or determination of a state agency,” and therefore, not really the jurisdiction of LUBA, which reviews land use decisions.

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However, in a press release, Friends of French Prairie said that filing the appeal had been merely a matter of record, to ensure “that ODA and the Aviation Board could not later argue that it was a land use decision that was not appealed.”

“The Friends of French Prairie appeal is important for several very good reasons,” said Ben Williams, president of Friends of French Prairie. “Without this action, ODA would almost certainly not have held a land use compatibility hearing concerning the Aurora Airport Master plan on Sept. 24.”

LUBA did not air any opinions about the disputed nature of the master plan itself, though this is expected in a different set of appeals regarding an Oct. 31 decision by the aviation board upholding the plan.

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