Folsom/El Dorado News

Folsom, El Dorado County to sue Sacramento County over expansion of Mather Airport

The Folsom City Council and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted this week to sue Sacramento County over its plan to expand Mather Airport.

The Folsom council held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the proposed litigation. While the discussion and vote took place in closed session, council members were unanimous in their support for the lawsuit, officials said. El Dorado County supervisors also voted in closed session to sue the county.

El Dorado County supervisors voted to sue Sacramento County on their own, but officials are talking about joining Folsom in its lawsuit. The lawsuit will mark the second time Folsom has sued the county over Mather operations. Folsom challenged an earlier Mather expansion in 2007.

Residents and elected officials in Folsom and El Dorado County have long been opposed to the Mather expansion because of concerns about overhead flight noise from cargo planes.

“If the master plan proceeds as planned and Mather is converted to a significant cargo hub, the impacts on the residents of Folsom will be significant into perpetuity, and that is unacceptable,” Folsom Mayor Kerri Howell said in a written statement.

El Dorado County Supervisor Ron Briggs said the expansion will bring additional noise, pollution and other problems. “The county of Sacramento is not listening. This will have a tremendous impact on our citizenry.”

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors last month voted for a master plan calling for $107 million in improvements to the airport. Airport officials say the improvements are needed to bring the former U.S. Air Force base up to current standards.

Supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of the plan and related environmental documents. Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who represents Folsom, was opposed. Supervisor Susan Peters abstained because she owns property next to the airport.

Briggs and Howell said the city will challenge the county under the California Environmental Quality Act. Folsom has accused the county of not making necessary legal findings before approving environmental documents for the Mather expansion.

County spokesman Chris Andis said it is against county policy to speak about pending lawsuits.

Briggs said the county’s environmental analysis is flawed because it concludes that the airport expansion will have a less than significant impact. The airport master plan envisions a 2 percent annual increase in cargo traffic.

Briggs said the environmental plan is also flawed because it failed to consider a logical alternative to Mather expansion – using Sacramento International Airport for cargo. Sacramento International was the location of cargo traffic before the county inherited Mather from the Air Force, and still serves FedEx. Airports Director John Wheat, however, has said he needs to keep Sacramento International free of cargo traffic to avoid delays in commercial flights.

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