Building a Residential Airpark

Recently we’ve had several inquiries from individuals and small groups interested in establishing residential airparks. Interestingly enough, the contacts have come from several regions of the country indicating to us that the interest continues to grow in this lifestyle.

Rather than continue responding individually, we decided to provide some general information and offer some suggestions to make life easier for anyone interested in developing or improving a residential airpark.

Generally speaking, the more distance from an airport with an operating control tower, the less pressure or interest there is from the FAA. That’s not to say, however, that this federal agency isn’t at all interested. It’s the level of interest that makes the difference.

When establishing an airpark the greatest area of interest is not going to come from the FAA; local zoning authorities and building folks probably will generate it. These are the ones you need to make sure they understand what you are attempting to develop and the reasons they should be supportive.

Here are some of the points you should be able to make:

  • The density of a residential airpark is almost always very low. You aren’t going to put a bunch of homes on small lots.
  • Homes that are built will probably be larger than average and more expensive. This means the resulting taxes to the local entity will be greater.
  • Because the majority of people living on residential airparks are middle aged, they usually don’t have children at home or at the most those kids are in high school and soon will be gone to college or on their own. This means little demand on schools in the area.
  • Residential airparks provide open space in the form of the runway and taxiway and are quiet areas. The number of airplane operations at residential airparks is quite low. These are people who generally use their airplane to go somewhere, not just fly around the local area doing touch and go’s, etc.

These are important points to make with community leaders as well as planning and zoning officials. They are the ones who are going to approve or reject your plan or make it easier or harder to complete.

It is usually better to obtain the services of professionals in developing your airpark layout and making your proposal to the required governmental agencies. These professionals – lawyer, CPA, land planner, developer, etc – can do it without the personal concerns that the property owners have and are thus less likely to get into an unpleasant situation with officials whose support you need.

There are a number of documents and publications out there to help you in developing and designing a safe airpark. These range from FAA documents that go from building another Chicago O’Hare to state publications to AOPA documents.

In no particular order, here are some of the ones we’ve collected:

  • FAA AC 150/5370-10A from Feb 17, 1989 – Standards for Specifying Construction of Airports.
  • Illinois DOT – Division of Aeronautics, February, 1992 – Residential Airports: Guidelines for Development.
  • AOPA August 1999 – Establishing an Airport: The Basics
  • Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP and Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. June 2004 – Guide to Airport Noise Rules and Use Restrictions
  • FAA Form 7480-1 (1-93) – Notice of Landing Area Proposal
  • FAA AC 70-2E Nov. 29, 1995 – Airspace Utilization Considerations in the Proposed Construction, Alteration, Activation and Deactivation of Airports.
  • FAA FAR Part 157, October 1993 –Notice of Construction, Alteration, Activation and Deactivation of Airports
  • FAA AC 150/5190-4A, Dec. 14, 1987 – A Model Zoning Ordinance to Limit Height of Objects Around Airports
  • FAA AC 150/5050-4, Sep. 26, 1975 – Citizen Participation in Airport Planning
  • FAA AC 150/5050-5, Nov. 28, 1975 – The Continuous Airport System Planning Process
  • FAA AC 150/5050-7, June 23, 1987 – Establishment of Airport Action Groups
  • FAA AC 150-5070-6A, June 1985 – Airport Master Plans
  • FAA AC 150-5300-13, Sep 29, 1989 – Airport Design

Many of these items are from 20 years ago but they still have some information that is relevant to current situations and also provide background education. Of course, many of the documents do not apply directly to residential airparks but they still provide good information.

In addition to the information above, we would encourage would be airpark developers to read through the covenants, conditions and restrictions that we’ve collected. Also, many of the airparks to which we have established links publish their own CC&Rs on those websites. A considerable amount of valuable information is available in these documents.