Idaho airport planning bill clears Senate committee

February 10, 2014

The Idaho Senate’s Local Government Committee passed a bill Feb. 6 that would require local land-use planning agencies to consider airports in their required comprehensive planning efforts. The bill was introduced on Jan. 31.

Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane traveled to the capitol in Boise on Feb. 6 to testify with other aviation associations in support of Senate Bill 1265 at the committee hearing. The Idaho Airport Management Association has been the catalyst and driver behind the legislation, and the Idaho Aviation Association also supports it. Following that testimony, the committee voted to send the bill to the full Senate for consideration, following a few minor technical amendments.

Currently, the state’s airport zoning act authorizes the Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Aeronautics to zone for airports, while the land-use planning act authorizes local governments to zone for all uses. But the Idaho Transportation Department has never been able to exercise its authority to zone for airports, due to a lack of resources.

The bill would repeal the Idaho Transportation Department’s authority to zone for airports and require the political subdivision having zoning ordinance authority to complete planning and zoning around airports in accordance with Idaho state statutes. It identifies public airports as essential community facilities that provide safe transportation alternatives and contribute to the economy of the state.

The measure requires planning and zoning commissions to consider as part of their comprehensive plan the current and future needs and community impacts of the airport, with the help of the Idaho Transportation Department and the local airport manager. It would also require local planning and zoning commissions to notify the local airport manager when recommending, adopting, amending, or repealing their comprehensive plan.

Senate Bill 1265 is undergoing minor technical amendments, after which it will move to the full Senate for consideration. AOPA members in Idaho are urged to contact their lawmakers, especially those in the Senate, and encourage them to support the bill when it comes to the floor.