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Through The Fence Residential Airparks

Posted By:
Terry McKinney
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
6
Posts
7
#1 Posted: 8/22/2009 15:31:50

Many of us are concerned about the FAA's announced intention to close all residential airparks that operate through-the-fence at public airports that accept (or plan to accept) federal improvement (FAA) money.  Having a home, plane and hangar is a dream many of us have worked for all our lives and this one of the few countries where such a thing is even possible.

I read, with approval, that the FAA administrator was boo-ed during a speech at AirVenture when he gave a party-line answer to an audience question about the topic.  I hope the EAA and AOPA keep the pressure on Congress to get the FAA to change its stance on this subject.  The residential airparks may be the first to fall but then the Feds will go after commercial through-the-fence operations (FBO's, etc.) demanding higher fees, etc.  We need less intrusion into our lives by the FAA, not more.  They need to focus on the zillion other things infinitely more important than airparks (for example a fragile ATC system that keeps people on taxiways in airliners for 8 hours).  Residential airparks are actually an airport's best friend in most cases, where residents often act as ambassadors for GA in the region and fly kids via the Young Eagles program, and whose properties act as buffers between noisy airports and surrounding non-aviation communities.  Everyone PLEASE encourage both EAA and AOPA leadership to treat this as the serious threat to GA that it is and strongly engage the FAA and all our Congressmen and Senators in getting this threat to GA from the Federal government  lifted once and for all (literally).

 

Do we need a separate Forum for this topic?  Discussion is heating up.



Barry Wood
3
Posts
1
#2 Posted: 8/22/2009 17:58:23

  What was their reason for not allowing the through the fence access.



Terry McKinney
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
6
Posts
7
#3 Posted: 8/23/2009 13:25:06

The FAA has never liked them, citing noise complaints if the properties sell to non-pilots, security issues, lack of equitable payments for airport upkeep and in general, a dislike for ANY residential neighborhoods near airports.  All of these issues can be resolved with simple changes to the deeds of the airpark property owners, if the FAA would accept that solution.   But it is easier for the FAA to just eliminate them entirely.  Unless we all squawk like Hell.



Tom DeWinter
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
21
Posts
7
#4 Posted: 8/24/2009 12:08:54

You guys have this all wrong I think.  The FAA is not against residential airparks.  They are opposed to through the fence operations.  Where an adjacent development just paves a taxiway to gain access to the public airport.

Through the fence operations are against the airport stipulations that they agree to when they accept federal grant money.  They want to make sure that all people pay a fair and non discriminatory cost for activity on the airport.  This helps ensure that the facility remains open to the public in a safe manner and minimizes the cost to the community for the ownership and upkeep of the airport.

Again the FAA is concentrating on the through the fence aspect of it.  That is a residential airpark or a private access to the public airport that is the problem.

The issue is that the airport and the taxpayers have paid for the infrastructure etc of the airprot and some group of people are gaining access to this for free.  That is anyone else on the airport must pay hangar rent, tiedown fees etc while the resident of the airpark pay nothing and just go onto the airport for free.  Airport businesses (FBO flight school avionics shop etc) on the airport proper must have certain non discriminitory rules and have to have bathrooms etc.  This all costs money to  invest.  While some guy in the back of his trunk could start to use the through the fence area to run his flight school.  It is an unfair business practice.

Basically through the fence operations amount to essentially trespassing.  It is no different than your neighbor coming into your back yard and using your pool for free after having none of the cost of investment or maintainence etc.

Many through the fence operations can be worked out if they pay airport access fees etc equivilent of what any other person etc would have to pay to base themselves on the airport.  Also there also has to be some understanindg about operations expecially if it is a through the fence operation at a controlled towered airport.

 

This is no different at a true outright residential airpark.  I currently live on an airpark.  I however an NOT an owner of the airpark itself.  I must pay for the use of the runway.  We call them airport access fees.  That is because while I can just go to my hangar and taxi out and take off.  I am using the airpark land.  So I pay them for t his aspect.  If I become one of the owners of the LLC that owns the airpark, I then do not have to pay this access fee.

Why should the public airport be any different?

The only other time the FAA cares about a separate individual airpark is when the two airports are so close that there are traffic patter issues that everyone can agree can be a safety concern.

 

 



Rich Dugger
15
Posts
3
#5 Posted: 8/25/2009 10:46:49

A simple solution is to charge the adjacent land owner the tie down fee.

Problem solved.

 

Now to say that he doesn't pay to use the airport already is not accurate.

Doesn't he buy fuel? Doesn't he pay property tax on his home? You bet he does. And in my town every single homeowner pays a few dollars of that bill directly to support the local municipally owned airport.

Is he required to pay a fee at every airport at which he lands? Probably not. Should he?

What will we do with these new roadable aircraft, Flying cars?

 

Are we just going to allow them drive onto the airport and let them take off with out getting a pound of flesh from them?

 

These people make the best neighbors an airport could have. The FAA needs to have a plexiglass window installed under their belly button so can see where they're going!!

 



Tom DeWinter
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
21
Posts
7
#6 Posted: 8/31/2009 15:26:48

It is nor can NOT be a tie down fee.  The fee would have to be comensorate with the land lease agreement for a hangar to be fair to all the other hangar owners at the airport.  And what to do with a taxiway that feeds through the fence to the airport which serves a 40 home development.  The developer of that airpark should be charged the equivelent of 40 average hangar leases.

Roadable aircraft are going to be a problem.  As it is now they have restricted access to most airports.  So people who have these airplanes will have to get some sort of access card to get through the fence.

I'm all for freedom.  But I am againse moochers who want to get something for free that everyone else has to pay for!  And true throught the fence operations are treaspassers and moochers trying to use the land for their own personal purposes for free.  Meanwhile the rest of us who might not live adjacent to the airport have to pay hangr rents etc for the use of the airport.  Fair is fair!



Rose Dorcey
Homebuilder or Craftsman
19
Posts
5
#7 Posted: 9/1/2009 16:32:44

Appreciate your well-informed comments on this subject, Tom!



Rick Daniels
42
Posts
7
#8 Posted: 9/2/2009 09:05:56

I hangar at Helena, MT (KHLN) in a community hangar with eight to ten other aircraft.  There is currently at least a ten year waiting list for an available single aircraft rental hangar.  The airport has no plans of adding any rental space.  If there was off airport property hangar space available with through the fence access to the nearest taxi way I would jump on it.  I agree that any access by off airport property should be paid for and maintained by off airport property owners but to restrict convenient airport access to only those who are at the head of the list for hangar rental or land lease and who can justify the expense of building their own hangar on airport would be wrong also.  The same argument could be used about the many aircraft that come to the airport in a trailer.  lets not mix access to hangar space (which is nothing more than parking) with public access to the runways or taxiways.  Rings of user fees.   



Rick N51149
Tom DeWinter
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
21
Posts
7
#9 Posted: 9/2/2009 12:22:16

So should people who live next to the freeway be able to build a personal driveway onto the freeway?  After all it is only just access to a public transportation facility?  Even driveways on state highways and many local roads are permitted and tightly considered.   Through the fence operations at an airport is a very similar situation.

I personally believe that through the fence operations can be worked out in a safe and fair manner.  So I'm not all gung hoe on the FAA's zero tolerance position.

It is too bad that airports that has land that can be developed and the airport would not allow that land to have hangars built is a poor business decision and short sighted as to revenue and making every attempt that the airport to become as self sufficient as possible to the local taxpayers.  It compounds itself as to the success of the FBO's and other airport businesses and so on.  Making the airport as self sufficient as possible is a grant assurance that the airport owner accepts as part of accepting federal funds. 



Rick Daniels
42
Posts
7
#10 Posted: 9/2/2009 12:59:15

Sounds like we both believe that through the fence, properly and fairly implemented, is acceptable. 

NUFF SAID

except that when I drive out my driveway I access a public automobile taxiway to get to the on ramp of the nearby freeway. 



Rick N51149
Terry McKinney
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
6
Posts
7
#11 Posted: 9/9/2009 14:41:16

 

I guess I started this thread with my original post.  To Tom's point about equitable airport use/access fees, I agree they are only fair, as do most TTF RA property owners.  And that fee should be based on a formula of some kind, TBD.  Probably an annual amount that is more than a simple tie-down fee but far less than the cost of a hanger rental.

The FAA is being autocratic and VERY heavy-handed about this (see the actual correspondence at AOPA.org), citing three main reasons to deny funding to all public airports that permit TTF RAs:

1- The homeowners' access adversely impacts security at the airports.  Oh please.  Even the TSA has given up on that silliness after its own inspector general concluded that the threat to airports and national infrastructure posed by GA is largely imaginary.   And fences and gates still work just fine.

2 - Equitable usage and contributions to airport ops.  Agreed and dealt with above.

3 - Noise complaints.  This one is valid only when TTF RA properties are sold to non-pilots who then complain about aircraft noise.  So all new TTF RAs should require their property owners' deeds to contain wording granting a vertical easement to aircraft over their properties and confirming their understanding of the area as a high-noise zone.  Existing TTF RAs should be grandfathered in.  This is only fair.

The FAA is in many ways the entire Federal bureaucracy in microcosm.  They look for simple, sweeping solutions to problems.  But the more basic question for us is "Do you want a larger, more intrusive and more expensive Federal government, or a smaller, less intrusive, less expensive one?"  I know my answer to that one.



Rich Dugger
15
Posts
3
#12 Posted: 9/10/2009 20:36:56 Modified: 9/10/2009 20:38:29

Why can it not be a tie down fee? Who says? Can I not come to about any airport in the country and rent a tie down?

And if so, why not?

What if I plan on coming to the airport often to visit my mom and want a tie down when I arrive?

Is there some criteria that I have to meet ? Are adjacent property owners denied tie downs?

If I buy a house in the airpark how does that deny me access to a tie down?

And if I rent one , do I not have access to all the same benefits whether or not I live next to the airport?

 

When people come to my airport and buy fuel or use the local A&P I do not consider them moochers regardless of whether they taxi up......... or land and taxi up.

 

Now if you are talking about mobile mechanics who come to the airport and operate out of the back of their cars while others invest in a building on the airport and lease ground, that is a different problem altogether.

 

These airparks are already in place and taxpayers have paid a pretty penny to buy land next to the airport upon which to build houses and pay even more taxes and pay the salaries of carpenters etc.

 

If it weren't for the airport they would not being paying inflated prices for the land and building expensive houses.

Tom , you and I will have to disagree.

Rich

 

 



Rich Dugger
15
Posts
3
#13 Posted: 9/10/2009 20:47:57

Tom,

You are right that driveways are controlled and permitted. At least they are in my county.

And back when these TTF operations were started , someone gave them permission to do it.

That can't just be taken away arbitrarily.

 

I do not have  a problem with charging access to the airport for TTF operations.

But to charge the same as a hangar is out of proportion IMHO.

 

Charging for a tie down that the customer will never use seems more than adequate.

 

What does a tie down go for at your airport?

Ours is a meager 20 bucks a month and has been that for decades.

But at the moment we only have one aircraft tied down.

 

Regards,

Rich

 

 



Brad Strand
Homebuilder or Craftsman
66
Posts
27
#14 Posted: 9/11/2009 09:11:02

Just curious about who exactly you think is a moocher.  If my airplane has removable or foldable wings and I trailer it to the airport am I then a moocher?  If I pay hanger rent in the summer when I am flying a lot, and take my plane home in the winter, am I a moocher?  I think you hurt my feelings when you started calling people names.



Ben Lewis
4
Posts
1
#15 Posted: 9/11/2009 20:39:37

 It's an unfortunate position for the FAA to take.  Mostly it comes down to them not wanting to lose control of what happens to the airport.  If TTF operators or homeowners have a stake in the airport, the FAA has that much less say in what happens to the airport.

The sad part is, TTF agreements could go a long way to increase the number of people who fly and scale back the tension between airports and noise sensitive citizens.  Given a fairly negotiated TTF agreement, a housing development whose occupants are pilots or future pilots is the best neighbor an airport could have!  And for the pilot/future pilot, what more favorable arrangement/relationship could you have with your airplane, airport, and hangar?  A residential TTF property should expect to pay higher taxes - a win for the community.  As previously mentioned, a buffer is created between those who dislike the noise and those who are indifferent or even relish the noise.  When your housing is combined with your hangar, you save on expenses allowing you to fly more and consequently buy more avgas and FBO services.

I would love to live with my airplane (the one I'm dreaming of buying) but there are not enough opportunities to do that unless you live in Florida.  If the FAA cannot substantiate their concerns better than they have, they need to back down on this position and become the flying public's ally, not our adversary.  By all means, regulate the bejeepers out of the arrangement, but ALLOW the arrangement.  Use the fairly negotiated fees to support the airport and plan for it's very viable future in cooperation with those who want to see it thrive.

My two cents.

-Ben



Paul Stuart
62
Posts
38
#16 Posted: 9/11/2009 20:53:39

Going back to post #11, I agree that the FAA's three concerns are security, money and noise.

Money and noise are very solvable.  I'm not so confident about security.  There's obviously a desire to have a large fence around every public airport.  Although I don't agree, TSA, FAA, etc seem very committed to the idea.   I guess "through the fence" arrangements are quite a big problem when your goal is to erect a fence with no gaps in it.



Dennis Moss
6
Posts
4
#17 Posted: 9/16/2009 18:49:33

I'm the former manager of a through-the-fence residential public airport.  The FAA's main concern with through-the -fence operations at publicly owned airports is that there may be violations of the grant assurances that the airport sponsor signed when they received monies for AIP funding.  One of the assurances is that equal consideration will be given to all entities that access the airport for commercial operations.  If an FBO that is based on airport is charged one rate for lease of airport property and a through-the-fence operator is charged another rate, or nothing at all to access the airport, then the through-the-fence operator may have an unfair advantage.  Additionally, the FBO probably has a lease that expires at a certain time limit such as 20 or 30 years, at which time the improvements revert to the ownership of the airport.  The airport can then lease the improvements at fair market rates to insure the self sufficency of the airport.  Off airport operations do not have to revert ownership of improvements to the airport, which may give them a financial advantage over the on airport entity.  

Security concerns also exist with residential access to airport surfaces, and there were incidents of children riding their bikes on the runway, as well as other runway incursion incidents that would be specific to residential airparks.  These occurances can be minimalized through education that addresses airport operations and the dangers of aircraft movement to non-flying members of the airpark.      

My take on this is that the FAA isn't going to attempt to "shut down" public use residential airparks, but they will want to have policies in place with the airport sponsor to insure that the grant assurances concerning equal access and financial self-sufficiency are addressed. 

 



Andrew Ovans
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
133
Posts
39
#18 Posted: 9/20/2009 19:36:56

A simple solution to this would be to have a gate that anyone who is supposed to be there can still have access with the airport approval. This is just like having a hangar at the airport and then driving your car through the gate to get to it. You as an airpark or "home / hangar" owner pay an annual gate usage fee just like paying a land user fee if you owned a hangar on site.

The problem lies when people who love airplanes build these structures and operate them as they are intended to be. They work fine until they move out and the next guy moves in and doesnt respect the rules as they be. Next thing you know he is having people over, throwing parties, and hosting unauthorized public access to the airport no matter how many times he is told not to. Now the airport is in a bind because they can't fence off one guy and not the next. So now they have to either wait until everyone moves at the same time or they make a federal policy to make it mandatory to prevent (the one or two guys at every airport who think they are entitled to free access because they have always had it) individuals from suing and wasting individual county time and money.

This is where security issues come to be as it isn't the people that do use it for good purpose, it's the people who disrespect airport policies. As they say, its always that one bad egg...

I smell a story that ABC needs to report on......



www.tailwindflightcenter.com Flightline Aeronautics LLC
Terry McKinney
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
6
Posts
7
#19 Posted: 9/20/2009 19:36:58

Ref Dennis' post #17, I hope you are right about the FAA backing away from the "close them all" position on TTF RAs.  But there is no evidence of any such change just yet. 

 

And ref Paul's post #16 about fencing, some TTF RAs already have remotely-operated gates for access to already-fenced airports.  These are very secure gates, some of them costing more than $50K and 10 feet tall, with barbed wire tops.  Pilots carry a small control box the size of a TV remote.  These activate the gates which slide open and then after 2 minutes slide shut.  And remember that these gates are on an otherwise dead-end street in a residential neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else.   Kind of the ultimate "neighborhood watch" operation.  So security concerns are not really valid at many of the threatened airports.  Some airports, probably so.



#20 Posted: 9/25/2009 16:49:49

Terry,

Anytime you include the government as your partner in a huge investment-beware. I developed the Myrtle Beach Hardee Airpark (SC21) here in South Carolina. We are Private, the streets, the runway, all the land. The FAA, the county, the state has little or nothing to say about our Airpark. I check with all government agencies before we spent our $$$.

 I have taught several Forums at Oshkosh and Sun-N-Fun about "Airparks the Selection Process".   One of the 1st things to do, is see WHO owns the Runway/s.  I would never tell anyone "Through the Fence" is a good idea.

Our Horry County has deeded us as a airplane development and it can't be changed. We had it rezoned, before counsel, and voted on.     

I advise buyers to do their homework. If they want more info, I have free info to send them on Airpark Selection.

Sincerely,  Ron Heidebrink            ron@gomyrtle.com   

 



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