The Silverton Airport a violation of land-use laws, according to a Marion County hearings officer. According to Mike Overfield, airport owner, the airport is vital to air flow in Oregon and should be expanded, not closed.

Overfield is appealing the hearings examiner decision to the Marion County Board of Commissioners. The board will decide Sept. 6 whether to hear the appeal.

At question is whether the 26-acre Silverton Airport at the north end of Airport Road NE is exempt from exclusive farm-use zoning. The zoning was passed to promote the continuation of commercial agriculture.

To pass the test, Shipman is charged with proving it was in use when the zoning came into effect in 1979 and continued to be in use after that. But while the site was found by the examiner to be a personal use airport in 1979, it was essentially abandoned in 1981, according to county records.

Even though it was not a licensed airport at the time, a handful of pilots still used it to land small planes. Aerial photographs taken in July 1988 and August 1992, however, show no trace of an airstrip on the property, according to county records.

If the Board of Commissioners hears the appeal and decides the airport can stay, Overfield reportedly wants to expand the airport to include several more hangars. Currently, there are two hangars. There could be as many as many as 14 hangars if approved.

The airport is Oregon’s oldest, dating back to 1917. Overfield, known for renovating several historical buildings in downtown Silverton, hopes to build a museum at the airport that would house antique planes.

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