background image
Page 136
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 7
"If we do this, Robert Ohlendorf and his
family will fight us all the way."
"They won't like it, no," Kay said.
"So why do I feel inclined to move with the
herd on this one? Several other folks are in,
nine altogether, I think. We'll make ten."
"It still doesn't answer the question: Why
go all-in this early in the game?"
"Strength in numbers, I suppose." I paused
and glanced at the e-mail in front of me. Nei-
ther of us spoke for a long moment. I final-
ly said, "You think the judges might select a
route other than 19?"
"I have no idea. Judges evaluate evidence,
facts, administrative procedure. If avoiding
aircraft hazards is a primary concern, Route
19 is a good bet. Who's to say some other
issue isn't driving the decision, say nearby
homes. If the number of habitable structures
is a deciding factor, then Route 19 is out of
the running."
"Then it's a no?" I wait through another
long pause and I get the feeling Kay is read-
ing something--maybe the draft statement,
maybe not, she's quiet about it--thinking.
"Not necessarily," she said.
Kay had a way of making her case and
then deferring to her client, me. She could be
subtle, sometimes not, or she might muster
an argument leading me down one path only
to switch sides on me, which was where I
was now.
"I'm still inclined to sign it," I said.
"Okay then."
In the end we did sign the Statement of Po-
sition, along with Cameron Crossroads LP,
Kings Gate LP, and Eleanor C. Stone; ACD
GREP II Hutto Real Estate; Butler Family
PSHP and Cerco Development Inc; Cooper
Land Development Inc; Avery Intervenors
Group; LB Deerwood Property LP; City of
Martindale, Scenic Texas Inc; and the Air-
craft Owners and Pilots Association. And as
far as I could tell, it didn't make a bit of differ-
ence in the outcome.
The Hearing
The hearing on February 4, 2008, was a
nonevent. I showed up, listened to the same
arguments I'd read dozens of times, took the
stand and said my piece, and then left. The
real fireworks started days later when LCRA
found a hole in our argument big enough to
throw a cat through.
Back in November, four months earlier, the
engineering team at LCRA submitted to the
FAA Form 7460-1 Notice of Proposed Con-
struction or Alteration for its Gilleland Creek
to McNeil upgrade which included several
new high-wire towers. This transmission line
was not a part of the proposed Clear Springs
to Hutto power line yet was nonetheless in
the vicinity of Bird's Nest Airport and had the
potential to affect the airport's precision in-
strument approach certification.
What happened can be summarized in
three words: Someone screwed up.
On December 26, 2007, the FAA issued a
Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation
concerning the Gilleland Creek to McNeil up-
grade, which contained at least one tower 122
feet above ground level. Then in January 22,