The State of Minnesota has adopted legislation for airports to implement height and land use regulations to minimize airport safety hazards and protect airport operations as described in Chapter 360 of the Minnesota Statutes. Included in the legislation was the implementation of Land Use Safety Zones A, B, and C. These land use safety zones were established to restrict incompatible land uses that may be hazardous to the operational safety of aircraft and to protect the property and safety of people on the ground near an airport.
In 2019, the Minnesota Legislature revised its Airport Land Use statute and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)-Aeronautics has created a process that allows communities to create custom Land Use Safety Zones that reflect the unique environment around each airport while ensuring that general prohibitions are taken to protect the safety of flight and the general public.
As a result, the Joint Airport Zoning Board (JAZB) has elected to establish and adopt a custom airport zoning ordinance for Duluth International Airport as defined by Minnesota Statute 360.0656. This allows the JAZB to tailor the zones to the local land uses adjoining the airport to reduce the economic penalty faced by landowners while ensuring compatibility between the surrounding community and Duluth International Airport. The JAZB is made up of members through the municipalities that will be affected by airport zoning that is the City of Duluth, City of Hermantown, City of Rice Lake, and Canosia Township. The proposed custom zones support the economic development vision for each of these communities and the zoning is consistent with how land around the airport has been developed since the last zoning ordinance went into effect in 1988.
The JAZB and Duluth Airport Authority hope to share information with all interested persons, elected and appointed officials, tenants, agencies, and surrounding communities and receive feedback.
It is important for the community to understand the issues associated with the pending zoning ordinance revision. Therefore, JAZB will hold a public hearing to ensure that an appropriate level of community engagement occurs. You will be able to provide written comments or verbal commentary at the public hearing during the public comment period, but you can also submit comments or discuss the matter with your JAZB representative in advance of the public hearing by email the JAZB at JAZB@duluthairport.com or contacting one of your local JAZB representatives:
- Kevin Comnick
- Dan Golen
- Steve Gerads
- Brent Malvick
- Don Monaco
- John Geissler
- Eric Johnson
- John Hegstrom
- Suzanne Herstad
St. Louis County
- Frank Jewell
- Keith Musolf
A public hearing will be held on September 24, 2020 at 6 pm in the Amatuzio Conference Room at Duluth International Airport. It will also be held virtually on the Zoom Videoconferencing app. You can join us from home or on your mobile and watch the meeting live! The project team will be able to share their screens with you and have an open video chat to answer any questions you may have. Provisions will be made for accepting comments. The meeting can be accessed from this link. If prompted, provide the following passcode: 624611. During the public hearing will be taking multiple safety precautions including increased cleaning/disinfecting, masks, as well as social distancing. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an airport zoning ordinance?
- Airport zoning ordinances are specific local regulations that govern land uses and structures within a boundary to promote the public health of communities. Airport zoning ordinances can establish zone districts, the uses allowed in each zone, and other site layout elements. This allows the airport to be a better neighbor to its surrounding communities. In Minnesota, communities in the airport influence area enact zoning. A set of Procedural Steps is prescribed that meets the requirements set forth in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 360 sections 360.061 to 360.074.
Why is the Airport completing a zoning ordinance revision? What are the benefits of this ordinance?
- The JAZB is pursuing a custom airport zoning ordinance that achieves a balance between allowing for compatible community development and providing for a realistic level of safety. The overarching goal is to develop an airport zoning ordinance for review and approval by the Mn/DOT Commissioner of Transportation, subsequent adoption of that ordinance by the board, and then incorporation of the ordinance by local municipalities. Mn/DOT reserves the authority to determine whether the proposed zoning ordinance meets the reasonable level of safety threshold. Mn/DOT will not grant monies to a public airport for construction projects unless the public airport has in place airport zoning regulations, such as the model ordinance, that comply with Minnesota Statutes Chapter 360 and Minnesota Rules. Similarly, one of the grant assurances for receipt of federal airport funding is affirmative action taken to promote compatible land uses around the airport. In all cases, once a local government invokes its airport zoning authority under Chapter 360, the governing body must comply with the minimum airport zoning regulations in Chapter 360 and the minimum standards in Rule 8800.2400.
What is custom zoning?
- Custom zoning is intended to make it easier for communities and airports to zone based on their specific needs. Custom zoning will provide a comprehensive analysis of all the factors that affect land use surrounding an airport. These factors must be weighed in totality to determine the appropriateness of any given use. Airports and communities can choose to use a custom zone if there are issues that the standard zone design does not address. Liability is not different between the two and the zones should not be compared.
What are the boundaries of the area being affected?
- There are three custom zones associated with the ordinance: Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3, as shown on the graphic below. The specific limitations are outlined in the proposed ordinance, but in general the zones include:
- Zone 1: In approach zones of a runway, shall not contain buildings
- Zone 2: Extends outward from Zone 1, each use shall not be less than 2.5 acres and prohibits uses that attract/house crowds
- Zone 3: Subject to uses that do not create or cause interference with airport operations
Will this ordinance replace the existing zoning classification of property?
- An airport zoning ordinance will not modify the existing zoning classification of any property. The airport zoning ordinance will address local land uses specific to DLH that may hazardous to the operational safety of aircraft while also protecting the property and safety of people on the ground near an airport.
Will this ordinance involve modifying existing limitations such as height?
- If a proposed development seeks to penetrate the height limitations that are stipulated by the airspace zone, a variance will have to be granted by a board of adjustment.
Does this ordinance include plans to construct or extend any runways at the airport?
- This is not a public hearing about aircraft noise or any proposed improvements of the Duluth International Airport. Adoption of an airport zoning ordinance will not alter the number or frequency of flights or the noise level of traffic at the airport.
How can I comment on the zoning ordinance revision?
- We welcome and look forward to the public’s involvement in this process. Project information and updates will be provided throughout the project on a dedicated project webpage on the Duluth Airport website and DLH social media. Project updates, meeting agenda, meeting minutes, and review documents will all be posted on this page throughout the project. All comments will be reviewed and considered. Comments can be e-mailed to JAZB@duluthairport.com or provided to one of your local JAZB representatives.