Land Use & Public Airports

An Introduction to Planning and Zoning around Airports

Airport Compatible Land Uses

Airport-compatible land uses are defined as those uses that can coexist with a nearby airport without either constraining the safe and efficient operation of the airport or exposing people living or working nearby to unacceptable levels of noise or hazards (American Planning Association, 2010). Legg

Noise & Safety

Noise: The goal is to limit noise sensitive land uses to avoid issues such as annoyance and sleep disturbance to persons on the ground

Safety: The goal is to limit uses that have potential impacts in the following two categories:

Uses hazardous to airspace and overflights:

  • Tall structures
  • Visual obstructions (smoke, glare, steam, dust, lights)
  • Wildlife and bird attractants (wetlands, crops, open water)

Uses that affect accident severity:

  • High concentrations of people (schools, churches, arenas)
  • Risk-sensitive uses (nursing homes, hospitals, flammables)
  • Open lands

See additional factors and possible mitigation measures below.

Administrative Authority

Land use regulations around public airports are typically under the authority of the local jurisdiction, regardless of whether that jurisdiction is the public airport sponsor. However, certain federal requirements apply, and different states contain varying guidelines and requirements. Below is a summary of the primary applicable laws and public agency authority in Idaho regarding airport land use compatibility.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The FAA is an operating mode of the United States Department of Transportation. The agency is responsible for the regulation and oversight of civil aviation within the U.S., as well as operation and development of the National Airspace System. Its primary mission is to ensure safety of civil aviation.

Multiple regulations, guidelines, and other resources have been published by the FAA regarding Land Uses around Airports. The following is a partial list of relevant documents, click the links below to view details.

1. FAA Interim Guidance on Land Uses within a Runway Protection Zone (2012)

2. FAA Order 5190.6B, Airport Compliance Program, Chapter 20 - Compatible Land Use and Airspace Protection(2009)

3. FAA Southern Region Task Force Report, Land Use Compatibility and Airports (2002)

FAA Grant Assurances

When airport owners or sponsors, planning agencies, or other organizations accept funds from FAA-administered airport financial assistance programs, they must agree to certain obligations (assurances).

Assurance No. 21 requires: "It will take appropriate action, to the extent reasonable, including the adoption of zoning laws, to restrict the use of land adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the airport to activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations, including landing and takeoff of aircraft."

Read the full content here.

Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace

The Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR 77) primarily governs height around an airport and is intended to identify and define critical airspace surfaces to maintain safety, efficient use and the preservation of navigable airspace.

This regulation is emulated in the City of Sandpoint’s Airport Overlay Zone (Click the link to view City Code Title 9, Chapter 12)

Airports in Idaho

The Local Land Use Planning Act (Title 67, Chapter 65) requires that Public Airport Facilities be addressed in a local jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan.

Specifically, “An analysis prepared with assistance from the Idaho transportation department division of aeronautics, if requested by the planning and zoning commission, and the manager or person in charge of the local public airport identifying, but not limited to, facility locations, the scope and type of airport operations, existing and future planned airport development and infrastructure needs, and the economic impact to the community.”

Idaho Transportation Department, Division of Aeronautics

In 2016, the Idaho Transportation Department Division of Aeronautics, published an updated guidebook (Idaho Airport Land Use Guidelines) to provide a more streamlined document to educate airport owners/operators (airport sponsors), local planning and zoning representatives, local elected officials, and the general public in order to better understand the unique aspects of airports as they relate to compatible land use planning throughout the state.

The recommendations provided in this guidebook are applicable to all public-use airports in the state of Idaho and apply to all political subdivisions that own/operate a public-use airport, or are either impacted by or may impact a public-use airport. Many elements covered in these guidelines are required by either Idaho Code, Idaho Administrative Rules, FAA Policy and Guidance or the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

View the complete Idaho Airport Land Use Guidelines here.

Sandpoint Airport Master Plan

The Plan provides information on historic and current airport activity levels, facilities, and operations, and generates activity forecasts that support improvements to satisfy demand over the next twenty years. Information collected from municipalities, governments, and agencies is augmented with data from airport stakeholders, including airport management, airport tenants and users, and the general public.

View the complete Sandpoint Airport Master Plan here.

Deeper Dive into the Idaho Airport Land Use Guidelines & Zoning

Idaho’s Airport Land Use Guidelines provide for 6 recommended airport land use compatibility zones for consideration by local jurisdictions, as follows:

• Runway Protection Zones (RPZ)

• Lateral (or side) Safety Zone

• Critical Zone(s)

• Airport Traffic Pattern Area

• Airport Influence Area

• Impact Coordination Zone

With the exceptions of RPZs, compatibility zones are not mandated by the FAA or ITD and the “need, size and composition” of them can vary greatly depending on “local land use planning needs and desires, and the size and capability of the airport.” (ITD, 2016) The Guidelines provide for sample land use plans for consideration by local jurisdictions (see Figure below).

The Guidelines are relatively new and communities throughout the State are in varying stages of assessing and implementing. Jerome and Boise are arguably the leading the way to plan in accordance with the Guidelines. Over the next several months, Sandpoint will be working closely with the Airport and critically reviewing the Guidelines, including but not limited to assessing the Airport Influence Area and Impact Coordination Zone and other related factors.

Guideline Identifies Mitigation Measures

The following chart summarizes a portion of the Idaho Airport Land Use Guidelines, including the following notes below:

- Require Fair disclosure Statement as a condition of development

- Limit residential density to low-density and avoid high-density development

- Limit commercial uses to low-density and avoid high intensity commercial uses such as large retail box stores

- Locate development as far as possible from extended centerline, if no reasonable alternative exists

Sandpoint - Action Items

  1. Comprehensive (Comp) Plan Kick-Off with Council/Commission, Done
  2. Staff Research - Airport Compatible Land Use, Summary Report, Done
  3. Introductory Presentation to Council, June 19, 2019
  4. Coordination Meetings with Airport & Council Workshops, Continuous
  5. Interim Comp Plan Update, Airport Compatibility Zones, Complete December 2019
  6. Complete Comprehensive Plan Update, Complete Fall 2020

Moving Forward

In consideration of health and safety around the Airport, the importance of critically reviewing the Idaho Airport Land Use Guidelines sooner than later is clear. Therefore, the above Action Items list an Interim Update to the Comprehensive Plan to be completed by December 2019, intended to specifically address possible airport compatibility zones and other factors around the airport, prior to completing the overall update to the Comprehensive Plan in the Fall of 2020.

Over the next several months, staff will coordinate with the Airport, FAA, and other subject experts to inform recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Council. Multiple opportunities for public engagement will be provided throughout the process.

An additional measure for consideration may be a temporary moratorium on any NEW zone change requests within the established Airport Overlay. The moratorium would not preclude development as long as the development was consistent with the current zoning.