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Aviation Land Use Compatibility Program - Example Comprehensive Plan Goals and Policies

Every county, city and town is required to adopt comprehensive plan policies and development regulations that will discourage the siting of incompatible uses adjacent to public use general aviation airports. (36.70.547 RCW)

The Role of WSDOT Aviation is to provide technical assistance to Towns, Cities, Counties, and Airport Sponsors as they make planning decisions to implement provisions within Washington State to protect public use general aviation airports from adjacent incompatible land uses.

One of the first steps taken by a local jurisdiction is the coordination with the airport sponsor and the aviation community. The adoption of goals/policies within Comprehensive Plans is another key feature, helping to direct local decision makers implementing strategies and the development of consistent development regulations to meet state requirements.

The following example goals/policies are offered to assist local communities in the development or amendment of comprehensive plans. The sample language may be used in whole or in-part as needed to reach community objectives and promote aviation as a significant resource within Washington State. We recommend that local jurisdictions insert policy language into several sections of their comprehensive plan including sections for general land use, capital facilities, economic development, essential public facilities and the transportation element.

  • Protect the viability of the airport as a significant economic resource to the community by encouraging compatible land uses, densities, and reducing hazards that may endanger the lives and property of the public and aviation users.

  • Encourage the protection of the (Name) Airport from adjacent incompatible land uses and/or activities that could impact the present and/or future use of the airport as an Essential Public Facility (EPF), endanger the lives of people on the ground and/or promote inadvertent growth of incompatible land uses. Incompatible land uses may include residential, multi-family, height hazards, uses that attract large concentrations of people, wildlife hazards, and special uses such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes, and explosive/hazardous materials.

  • Coordinate the protection of the (name) Airport with (adjacent county or city) by developing consistent development regulations that utilize WSDOT Aviation Airport and Land Use Compatibility guidelines and other best management practices for encouraging compatible land uses adjacent to (name) airport(s).

  • Promote the safe operation (Name of aviation facilities) by encouraging compatible land uses and activities, and discouraging uses or activities that will impede safe flight operations or endanger the lives of people on the ground.

  • Encourage open space/clear areas and utilize zoning criteria within key safety areas adjacent to the airport to facilitate protection of the airport as an essential public facility, and reduce safety risk exposure to people on the ground and in the air. Applicable criteria may include promoting cluster development to promote open space/clear areas, locating structures away from the extended centerline of the runway, discouraging public assembly, transfer of development rights and other applicable strategies. When possible promote contiguous open space parcels, especially in areas with smaller parcel size configurations.

  • Within the Airport Influence area a notice to title/disclosure statement should be required for new or substantial redevelopment of lots, buildings, structures, and activities. The notice should indicate that the property is located adjacent to the (name) airport and may experience low overhead flights, odor, vibrations, noise and other similar aviation impacts.

  • Discourage the siting of uses adjacent to airports that attract birds, create visual hazards, discharge any particulate matter in the air that could alter atmospheric conditions, emit transmissions that would interfere with aviation communications and/or instrument landing systems, or otherwise obstruct or conflict with aircraft patterns, or result in potential hazards to aviation.

  • Encourage the adoption of development regulations that protect the airport from height hazards by developing a Height Overlay District that will prohibit buildings or structures from penetrating the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 77 “Imaginary Surfaces”.

  • Ensure that the (name) Airport is protected from incompatible uses consistent with WSDOT WSDOT Aviation Airport and Land Use Compatibility guidelines and best management practices.

  • Recognize (name of airport) as an essential public facility and discourage land uses that may promote incompatible development adjacent to the (name) airport.

  • Develop criteria, standards and compatible land use designations that will protect the airport and aviation uses from incompatible development by adopting a combination of zoning techniques including compatible zoning districts, overlay districts, and development siting criteria for evaluating uses or activities in key areas adjacent to the airport.

  • Identify, preserve, and enhance, through interjurisdictional planning, goals, policies and development regulations that promote significant regional transportation linkages and multimodal connections to and from aviation facilities and employment centers.

  • Encourage economic development opportunities and aviation related uses adjacent to airports and promote the efficient mobility of goods and services region-wide consistent with the economic development element and the regional transportation strategy.

  • Evaluate all proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan, capital facilities plan and/or urban growth area (UGA) that will increase incompatible land uses or potential of incompatible development adjacent to the airport through inappropriate land use or zoning designations and/or inadvertent land use policies.