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56 Guidebook for Managing Small Airports Project Justification Justification for federal-aid projects continues to become more and more critical as funding options and competition for those funds increases. Consequently, establishing a solid foundation early in the planning process for recommended projects is important. The level of detail for justi- fication often varies based on the type of project and the funding source. For example, as already has been noted, if an airport is included in the NPIAS, there is already a level of justification that is met by mere inclusion in the system. However, to maintain a competitive edge to garner additional funding, an airport will have to demonstrate a need for additional levels of funding that may come from a different source such as discretionary funds. Essentially, the eligibility of a project is measured against the benefit of the project based on the individual airport's needs as well as the needs of the state and national system as a whole. For exam- ple, an airport may believe it needs funds to resurface an aircraft parking area that is deteriorating due to age and so requests a grant to rehabilitate the pavement. The FAA may feel that the higher priority at the airport is the lack of taxiway lighting on a parallel taxiway. Because the FAA's mis- sion is to foster aviation facilities, the FAA could deny a grant request for the parking area rehabil- itation and instead require the airport to develop a taxiway lighting project. While both projects would be eligible for AIP funding, the taxiway lighting may be deemed a higher priority, as it enhances the utility of the airport. Documenting the need for specific projects often begins in the master planning process. Specific facility requirements and their associated methods of meeting the needs (alternatives) are identi- fied and evaluated for feasibility. This process becomes the basis for the project justification. In some cases, this process can require additional documentation such as aircraft performance cal- culations to demonstrate specific runway length requirements. Because each airport has individ- ual needs, an airport sponsor should work with the local state aviation agency and associated FAA office to determine the specific documentation that the FAA and state agency will require for individual federal-aid projects. User surveys are often used in the project justification process to obtain airport-specific infor- mation. These surveys can cover a wide range of topics and can be distributed to a diverse audi- ence depending on the information to be collected. For example, some airports conduct passenger surveys to assess the level of service being provided by a commercial air carrier, while a general aviation airport may conduct a survey of itinerant users to assess the level of services provided by the local FBO and learn if pilots are adequately provided for while they wait for their passengers. Runway length and facility needs can be assessed as well as the level of operations and types of use. A user survey can cover any number of issues and can be used to assist in project justification. Compatible Land Use Plans Incompatible land uses and their impact on airport operations and development have escalated over the past 50 years. As decisions to allow incompatible land uses near airports threaten the nation's aviation system, implementation of compatible land use controls has become an industry priority. The primary tools available to local governments to prevent incompatible development include zoning and land use controls such as comprehensive plans, airport land use plans, and air- port overlay zoning ordinances. Definition of Compatible Land Uses One of the primary challenges with compatible land use is establishing a specific definition of what is considered either compatible or incompatible to an airport and aircraft operations. Airport-compatible land uses are defined as those developments that comply with generally accepted restrictions on location, height, and activity that provide for safe aircraft movement and
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Airport Planning and Development 57 airport operations. Additionally, this definition includes the preservation of public health, safety, and welfare for those persons located in the surrounding airport environs. This definition can appear vague, because no specific land use types are specified. The vague- ness is intentional because nearly every type of land use can be both compatible and incompati- ble depending on the particular aspects of the land use, including the management of the land use, location of the land use relative to the airport, and ancillary types of impacts associated with the land use. For example, land uses typically considered to be compatible with airport operations include commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities. However, each of these may also con- tain aspects considered incompatible, because · Commercial uses may have dense concentrations of people; · Industrial operations often use tall smoke or ventilation stacks that generate smoke or steam, creating visual obstructions; and · Agricultural operations can act as wildlife attractants. Planners within the local municipality must assess the compatibility of the land use in greater detail as it relates to individual communities and airport operations. Land uses of concern to air- ports include those that attract high concentrations of people, those that use tall structures, those that create visual obstructions, and those that attract wildlife and birds. Compatibility Plan A compatibility plan can be developed to guide land use decisions in the vicinity of an airport. A plan should include several elements to provide a comprehensive document, such as · A land use manual, used as a resource document for land use compatibility concerns; · A land use map; and · A land use ordinance. A compatibility plan is generally prepared to · Assist in the preservation, continued development, and expansion of an airport; · Protect the public health, safety, and welfare by identifying land use measures to be imple- mented in order to minimize the public's exposure to excessive noise and safety hazards within a specific area surrounding an airport; · Protect the long-term economic viability of an airport by establishing compatible land uses within the airports environs; · Promote the safety and well-being of the public through the adoption of land use regulations, which minimize exposure of persons to hazards associated with the operation of an airport; · Provide an ordinance and criteria to help local municipalities (i.e., county, city, etc.) evaluate the compatibility of proposed local actions and determine the consistency of those proposed local actions to maintain compatible land uses in proximity to the airport; and · Provide guidance to those persons presenting proposed local actions or developments. Using a blend of the FAA criteria, airport-compatible land uses are defined as those develop- ments that comply with generally accepted restrictions on location, height, and activity to provide for safe aircraft movement and airport operations as well as the preservation of public health, safety, and welfare for those persons located in the surrounding airport environs. Examples of land uses typically considered compatible with airport operations include commer- cial, industrial, and agricultural activities. Land uses such as residential developments, schools, and hospitals are considered incompatible with airport operations. Each of these examples must be evaluated in detail as it relates to individual communities, because even those uses considered com- patible can have instances where incompatibility can arise. Conversely, some incompatible uses can be considered compatible if managed properly.