A new zoning classification near the city’s airport will not mean additional zoning regulations.

With the expanded runway at the Ottawa Municipal Airport, 2178 Montana Road, it became necessary for both Franklin County and the City of Ottawa to adopt new zoning regulations to adhere to Federal Aviation Administration standards. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday in favor of adopting the new zoning classification for the land surrounding the airport as an Airport Hazard (AH) Overlay Zoning District.

Ottawa city commissioners also approved the adoption of the Height and Hazard Overlay District at their meeting Wednesday night.

The City of Ottawa and Franklin County planning staffs collaborated with a consultant to update the height and hazard regulations associated with Ottawa Municipal Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration-required regulations are designed to protect the safety of pilots and residents, protect property surrounding the airport and protect the existing approach minimums for the airport, Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, said in a staff memorandum.

The Ottawa Planning Commission recommended the city approve the height and hazard regulations on a 6-0 vote. The Franklin County Planning Commission also recommended the county adopt the regulations.

The actions by the government bodies do not signify any significant changes for residents living in the areas south and east of the airport, Larry Walrod, Franklin County planning and building director, said. The county’s adopted amendment basically regulates the height of structures within the area, as well as anything that might disrupt the radio frequency of planes seeking to take off or land at the airport.

“It’s not going to affect the underlying zones, it’s added to it,” he said. “It’s not going to affect the uses. What it does do is provide a means of being able to protect the airport from encroachment as a height of anything that would be, grow or constructed in the underlying area.”

While the airport is in the corporate boundaries of the city, the height and hazard zones extend into the county and are therefore the county’s responsibility.

The county planning commission recently had a public meeting regarding the additional zoning area. About 40 residents turned out to ask questions about how the change would affect their properties. Walrod said most of the questions dealt with tax changes, of which there are none, or additional building regulations, which aren’t likely to affect residents. Agricultural burning was brought up at that meeting, Walrod said, but the change does not affect any part of the agricultural burning regulations. In fact, he added, it is not meant to impact agricultural operations at all.  

“We’re looking at height and other possible interference for the overall operations of this facility,” Walrod said.

While specific height requirements were not presented at the meeting, Lee said no existing structures are likely to interfere.

“Those buildings just simply aren’t high enough to be a concern,” Lee said at Wednesday’s county meeting. “We’re very fortunate the location of our airport doesn’t have a lot of imminent hazards.”

Doug Carder, Herald senior writer, contributed to this report.