Debate heightens over plan to remove hundreds of trees around Bo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Debate heightens over plan to remove hundreds of trees around Bowman Field

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A years-long dispute between airport officials and neighbors who live near Bowman Field came to a head Tuesday over a plan to remove hundreds of trees.

Jayne McClew was just one of the dozens of neighbors who packed a public input workshop, wanting answers. 

"Quite frankly, I'm worried about my rights," McClew said.

Tuesday night was the final time neighbors have a say on the Bowman Field Airport Area Safety Program before an FAA environmental impact study is complete.

The plan calls to either cut down or remove around 250 to 300 trees around Bowman Field. 

The Louisville Regional Airport Authority says the tree cutting is needed for safety reasons and because its an FAA requirement. 

"It is paramount that we complete this to protect the aircraft, the people in them and the people on the ground under them," said Skip Miller, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

The trees would be trimmed or removed altogether along Pee Wee Reese Road and Seneca Golf Course but also in nearby neighborhoods like Seneca Gardens. 

"They're an integral part of the landscape," said Tom Fitzgerald, an attorney with Plea for the Trees. "It's part of what makes Seneca Gardens, Seneca Gardens ... It's part of having the mature canopy and a very park-like setting for an urban neighborhood."

The meeting was not a public forum, rather a public workshop where neighbors could submit comments and ask questions of airport authority staff and consultants. 

Some neighbors were under the impression that reps from the FAA would be there.

They weren't.

"They very seldom attend these workshops," Miller said. "That;s just a matter of practice for them."

The FAA is expected to review comments by mid-July. 

Tree trimming and removal is expected to start by late March or early April of 2017. 

"Safety goes both ways," McClew said. "It's not just the people in the jets flying over our neighborhood. It's the homeowners as well."

Comments on the tree removal plan can still be submitted via email until 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Email your comments to aaron.braswell@faa.gov.

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