Opponents fear the project will result in a “potential nightmare for the residents of Spanish Valley” while supporters state that it is just developing an asset that has been in the valley since the 1970s.
Mike Bynum is developing the Sky Ranch, a private recreational project that lines both sides of a 3,000-foot airstrip on the eastern side of Spanish Valley.
Sky Ranch is set to sell 25 lots, at roughly 1.2-acres each, along the airstrip in a project that Bynum said will have high standards and strict homeowner covenants.
“We are in the final stages of laying out the lots,” explains Bynum.
“This is a private runway that will be closed to the flying public,” said Bynum, who adds that the runway will be open during daylight hours only. “The airstrip will only be open to homeowners and their guests.”
Bynum said the typical owner would be someone who could put “toy barns” on the property that could be used for airplanes, ATVs, four-wheel drive vehicles, or more.
In the fall of 2017, construction crews repaved the runway. The construction was the first time many people knew of the expanded project.
There have been a number of concerns expressed by residents in the area, including several letters to the Editor in the San Juan Record.
Bynum said he is “very happy to be upfront and share our plans with people.”
“We have received good, positive suggestions from neighborhood meetings,” said Bynum. As a result of the meetings, he said they have adopted “Fly Friendly” criteria and will direct flight patterns toward the south in order to minimize noise impacts.
The Sky Ranch runway is not at the location of the old Moab Airport, which has been abandoned, but a separate location on an airstrip first built in the 1970s by Bud Tangren.
“The original runway was 60 feet wide, but we repaved it to just 50 feet wide,” explains Bynum.
The length and size of the runway mandates that small private planes will use the runway. Large planes need a runway that is at least 3,500 feet long.
In 1985, the airstrip was designated as an emergency runway for northern San Juan County by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Canyonlands Airport north of Moab is currently closed for a repaving and expansion project.
For several weeks, UPS flights were temporarily landing at the Sky Ranch airstrip. Now they are landing at the Monticello Airport.
Sky Ranch is a flashpoint in an ongoing controversy regarding the development of Spanish Valley. The Moab area is experiencing explosive growth and many people look to Spanish Valley as a possible growth area.
San Juan County is working with Landmark Designs, a consulting project that is developing a master plan for the growth of Spanish Valley.
In addition to private land, there are large swaths of land in Spanish Valley that are owned by SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration). The SITLA land could be used as a base for extensive development and growth.
Growth in the area has taken place without rigid planning and zoning oversight by San Juan County. That may change as the area continues to grow. A current project is extending water and sewer service to the area.