Coventry residents oppose proposed airstrip

Coventry residents had plenty to say Wednesday night about a private airstrip that a farm owner has proposed in town.

Many of those who live in the area attended a zoning board hearing to express their concerns about increasing the number of flights allowed in and out of the area.

Most said they think the change would cause a major safety concern for the neighborhood.

One after one, Coventry residents came up to the podium, each with questions and concerns for the zoning board regarding the private airstrip.

"Will they be carrying the proper liability insurance in the event of a house being struck by an aircraft?" asked resident Robert Conover. "And another thing, how much fuel will be stored on the property? We want to know. There are still a lot of things that need to be clarified."

The owner of Green Light Farm on Town Farm Road has applied for a special use permit to allow increased traffic on his small runway. He brought photos of each of his airplanes to show the zoning board.

But the public isn't sold on the concept.

Citing reasons ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to pollution, some neighbors said they don't want the measure to be approved.

"My husband is a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. Approximately 35 years after Vietnam he began to have flashbacks, depression and anxiety. He has been diagnosed with PTSD," Karen Matteson said. "An airfield in my backyard would definitely affect my husband's quality of life."

The short runway is already in use, but the property owner is only allowed take off and land a limited number of times a year. If the permit is approved, as many as 25 flights a month could be allowed.

That's exactly what some of his neighbors are concerned about.

"I'm worried about a plane crash. I'm worried about noise. We have an elementary school that's exactly one point one mile away from this runway with 700 students there," Diane Jordan said. "We have a propane facility that's about one mile away from this runway. If a plane were to crash into either of those, it would be devastating."

The owner of the farm land told NBC 10 he would speak to us on camera, but then his attorney stepped in and advised him not to.

The matter of the special use permit for the private airstrip is expected to be put up for a vote at a future Coventry zoning board meeting.