Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed Senate Bill 1265 into law March 13, requiring local land-use planning agencies to consider airports in their comprehensive planning efforts, greatly improving land use around airports in the state. The bill, strongly supported by AOPA and driven by the Idaho Airport Management Association and Idaho Aviation Association, was introduced on Jan. 31.
The state’s current 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 new law repeals the Idaho Transportation Department’s authority to zone for airports and requires the political subdivision having zoning ordinance authority to complete planning and zoning around airports in accordance with state statutes. It also identifies public airports as essential community facilities that provide safe transportation alternatives and contribute to the economy of the state.
Effective July 1, it requires planning and zoning commissions to consider the current and future needs and community impacts of the airport as part of their comprehensive plan, with the assistance of the Idaho Transportation Department’s (if requested by the local agency) and the local airport manager or person in charge of the airport. And finally, it requires local planning and zoning commissions (and their governing boards) to notify the local airport manager (or person in charge) when recommending, adopting, amending, repealing their comprehensive plan.
“Passage of this legislation creates an effective tool to protect Idaho’s public-use airports. As AOPA advocates for general aviation and works to protect airports across the country, we frequently see airports threatened with operational restrictions or closure, most often due to surrounding incompatible land use,” said Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane. “Residential encroachment on airports results in neighbors complaining about noise, pollution, and other hazards. Poor planning often leaves airports surrounded by houses, churches, schools,nd other sensitive development.”
With the new law, communities can better coexist with their airport; local, state, and federal airport investments are protected; and airports can continue to create significant economic benefits in Idaho, said Ulane. Members in Idaho are being asked to contact their legislators and thank them for their support of the bill.