Hearing Rescheduled on Airport Controversy

Times Staff Writer

The Huntington Beach Planning Commission postponed a hearing Tuesday night on plans to close Meadowlark Airport and build a shopping center and homes.

At the request of the Nerio family, which has owned the airport for 35 years, the commission granted a six-week extension so that city staff concerns about sewer and water lines could be addressed.

A special meeting on the airport proposal was scheduled for July 28. The council chambers filled with applause after the commission’s unanimous vote to delay the decision.

Several dozen people attended the meeting, most of them residents of the area surrounding the airport. However, because the issue was postponed and planning commission rules dictate that speakers can address them just once on any issue, nearly all of those attending said they would return for the July meeting.

Safety Concerns Cited

The 1940s-era airport, on 65 acres at Warner Avenue and Bolsa Chica Street, would be razed to build a 15-acre shopping center and a tract of about 350 homes, family member Dick Nerio has said.


“That area has been building pretty fast, so it makes good sense for us,” Nerio said last month. He added that “concerns about public safety” also influenced the family to try to convert the airport.

Nine accidents involving small aircraft have occurred in the last 10 years at the airport--one of just two municipal airports still operating in the county. Fullerton Municipal Airport is the other one.

Pilots and residents of neighborhoods that surround the airport blame a small airstrip that cannot be extended because it is wedged between housing tracts just east of Huntington Harbour.

Many pilots oppose closing the airport, saying that there is already a shortage of space for small aircraft in the county.

Some residents in neighborhoods flanking the airport boundaries object to developing the airport, saying a commercial center would attract traffic and noise that they don’t now have.