Question – My wife and I are in our early 60s and we’re interested in converting our farm strip into a residential airpark. We’re located about 25-30 miles from a city of about 100,000. How many lots should be expect to develop in the project and from whom do we have to get permission?
Answer – Before I get into the specific answers, let me tell you I think you probably have a great chance for success in this project. This could mean financial security for your retirement years as well as providing a service to your community.
Your property is located almost a perfect distance from the city to make it attractive to many folks. You aren’t likely to get problems from neighbors from additional flying because in all likelihood you don’t have too many close-by neighbors and those that are nearby already are aware of the strip and the airplanes.
Each state and many counties have different rules on airports – private individual ones and residential developments. You’ll need to get those checked out first off and make sure the area is zoned properly. The local authorities are usually the biggest obstacle to creation of a successful residential airpark.
Assuming your airpark doesn’t have a public-use airport with an operating control tower within 25 or 30 miles, the FAA isn’t going to be terribly concerned about your project. They will want you to complete an airspace study, which can be done easily by just about anyone. The local zoning authorities will need your major attention.
As for how many lots you can expect to develop, that’s going to be decided by the amount of land you own, property that can be brought into the project (getting adjoining landowners to take part) and your personal preferences for how close you want to live to others. Some airparks are very successful with city-size lots and others prefer lots of multiple acres. There’s no right or wrong answer; it all depends on what you prefer and what the public will buy.
To get the ball rolling, I would find people who have developed residential projects in the community – regular housing tracts or even golf course communities – and talk with them about the professionals they used to get things going. I strongly encourage you to find those professionals because they can get the job done better with less antagonism than you trying to do it yourself.
This can be an exciting, profitable project that also serves a need if done right. It can also become an albatross around your neck if done poorly. Good luck!