By MIRIAM BULWAR DAVID-HAY (TRANSLATED)
The district Planning and Construction Committee has rejected plans by the Israel Airports Authority and civil aviation managers to expand the Herzliya airfield by 100 dunams, reports www.local.co.il. The committee ruled that there was simply no room to enlarge the airfield so close to residential areas, and said the aviation authorities had not presented any letter of indemnity to the local planning committee to prepare for the possibility that surrounding residents might sue over the loss of value to their properties.
According to the report, the authorities applied for the Herzliya airfield to be enlarged southward from its current 160 dunams to 260 dunams, citing a need to improve safety at the site. The application came despite the government's recent authorization of the removal of the airfield to Kibbutz Ein Shemer, near Hadera, and despite the committee's already having rejected a similar application previously.
The committee ordered the aviation authorities to come up with an alternative plan for improving safety inside the current boundaries of the airport, with a hearing to be held on the subject in May. The committee said that if such a plan was not presented then, it could recommend to the National Council for Planning and Construction that it withdraw the airport's right to operate.
Herzliya Mayor Yael German said she had "no doubt" that a catastrophe was waiting to happen at the airfield, and that it should be closed down. "There is no justification for the existence of an airfield in this place, not for national reasons, not security, not commercial and not economic. The airfield presents a hazard for 200,000 residents," German said. She added that Herzliya had plans to build 5,600 residential units to help solve the housing shortage in the city, but that these plans could not get off the ground as long as the airfield remained in its current location. No comment was reported from the aviation authorities.
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