Question: I’ve been thinking about trying to obtain a residential airpark property – a house or lot on which to build a house – but I seem to hear a lot of talk (maybe rumors) that the FAA is opposed to residential airparks and is moving to eliminate the existing ones or at least keeping new ones from springing up. What can you tell me about these situations?
Answer: First of all, let’s make it very clear that there are two kinds of residential airparks:
One set of airparks – by far the largest group – is located on privately owned and maintained airparks.
The other kind of airparks is what are known as “Thru the Fence (TTF)” operations usually located on land adjacent to public-owned airports.
I can assure you that the fly-in communities located on privately-owned airports do not have any trouble with the FAA as far as “thru the fence” arrangements or most other situations. There might be some questions from the FAA as to airspace problems if a privately owned airpark is within a short distance of an airport with an operating control tower, but generally speaking there aren’t FAA troubles.
The local zoning agencies are the ones that affect residential airparks. Assuming the permitting and hearings processes that are in effect in the area are followed and approvals are received, there are no troubles from federal or even state, county or local officials.
Noise complaints, low flying, dangerous activities are completely different issues and have nothing to do with the question.
The rumors about FAA opposition to residential airparks result from projects at public airports that have received federal funding or hope to do so. In a number of cases over the years, some FAA offices have voiced opposition and threatened to withhold funding for airport projects if TTF projects are undertaken or are in operation. Depending on the FAA region, the opposition has been more strenuous than others.
Recently, problems erupted in the Northwest region on a long-established state-owned airport with a TTF agreement. After several meetings among airpark residents, state officials and FAA, it appears the problem has been alleviated and no additional demands have been heard from the FAA.
Hopefully this answers your question. It has always seemed to me that a residential community with TTF agreement would be good for a public airport because nearby residents would be aviation enthusiasts supportive of the airport and not opposed to the noise, aromas or other things some non aviation people think about. But, I’m not a bureaucrat and must not understand the problems seen by FAA officials.