New Runway Plan Threatens Del Rey Farmers

If you've had POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, there's very little debate that it's tasty.

But when it comes to the airplane runway the company is laying down in the farming community of Del Rey, there definitely is some arguing.

Some people prefer the hustle and bustle of city life while others prefer much quieter ones like in South Del Rey. That, though, may be in jeopardy soon, thanks to a proposed runway that POM Wonderful plans to put in for air planes to fly in and out of--something that people here weren't even told about.

Gilbert Escobar, who lives nearby, doesn't want the runway in his backyard.

"Me and my four neighbors here are just being looked over," Escobar said. "They don't care about us. They just want to do what they want to do. The county is just letting them."

The runway was unanimously passed by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on March 6. And, it passed with all necessary steps: permits and notifications accounted for.

POM Wonderful sent KMPH a statement. In part, saying, "POM Wonderful cares deeply about being a good neighbor in Del Rey. We participated in numerous public dialogues to share our plans with our neighbors and hear their concerns. We have acquired all the valid use and construction permits required for the project."

South Del Rey residents say they are also worried about the noise that comes with air traffic flying directly over their houses.

"We like our peace and quiet. We're farmers here. That's why we live out in the country. If it's going to be noisy, I may just have to sell it and move elsewhere where it will be more quiet. They're pushing me away."

POM Wonderful says Escobar and his neighbors don't have to worry about the noise.

"We met with Mr. Escobvar in January, shared our flight maps with him, and confirmed that planes would not be flying near his property. We also conducted a noise study, which found that the noise generated from this runway would be less than that of a truck driving down the road."

Noisy or not, notified or not, Gilbert and his neighbors feel like they're being walked over.

"We've been here a long time before POM. A long time before POM, and I don't think it's fair that they get to do whatever they want," Escobar said.

According to the County agreement, POM Wonderful will be allowed six flights per week. Gilbert and the residents at South Del Rey have been told that's two flights per day, five days a week.

POM Wonderful told KMPH over the phone that it, too, heard it's two flights a day, five days a week.