SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) The Federal Aviation Administration has warned officials in northern Idaho's Bonner County that they risk losing federal money for improvements at Sandpoint Airport if the airport continues special projects for private entities.
But county officials say they are doing nothing wrong.
"I don't really think it's substantiated with facts," Commission Chairman Lewis Rich said of the FAA's complaint.
County commissioners were warned last month by FAA officials to stop any residential development next to the airport, ban any new access at the airport, and prohibit midfield runway access.
Administration officials say allowing midfield runway access increases the possibility of collisions between aircraft.
However, a year ago a 44-unit, fly-in residential community was approved next to the airport called SilverWing. The county's Sandpoint Airport Advisory Board supported the project, which was approved by Sandpoint officials.
SilverWing has midfield runway access. So does nearby plane manufacturer Quest Aircraft Co.
Rich said midfield runway access is part of a binding legal agreement.
"We can't take that away," Rich told the Bonner County Daily Bee. "It was agreed to a long time ago. It went through the courts and it is what it is."
"All the things that have been done were done in conjunction with FAA requirements to get it to the point where it is now," he said.
Aviation administration officials are also objecting to providing money for a taxiway on the west side of the airport.
"We have conveyed to the county on several occasions that we do not support public or federal funding of the west taxiway since the taxiway would primarily support private off airport entities, such as Quest Aircraft and SilverWings," Carol Key, Seattle Airports District Office manager, said in a March 13 letter to Rich.
The FAA has contributed more than $5.3 million in airport improvements since 1982.