City Enacts "Zoning" Around Airports

People who live near Houston's airports will notice some changes to development and land use. The city council passed an ordinance to create an airport commission. That commission will create new regulations for property development. Laurie Johnson reports.
The Airport Land Use ordinance creates a tiered system around the airports. Depending on where a property falls in those tiers, the Airport Commission may restrict what can be built there.

For instance, new neighborhoods won't be going in next to the planned addition of runways at Bush Intercontinental.

Houston Mayor Bill White says Bush is likely to expand and the city needs to plan accordingly.

"We're a big city and over a period of 100 years we're going to grow and flights will grow. What happens when we expand and there's going to be more flights? So what happens is that people in the flight patterns of those new runways or you have more traffic then they complain about the noise and the fact that their property values goes down."

In a city notorious for no zoning, the new regulations come pretty close. But they are required by the Federal Aviation Administration. And Mayor White says the city risked losing federal funding if they didn't comply.

"Just like on FEMA -- FEMA wants us to have flood rules and regulations that minimize the repetitive flood damage. And the FAA wants to have rules that put people on notice about where airport expansion could go in the future."

No specific land use regulations have been developed yet. The Airport Commission will have to draft their recommendations for council approval.

Laurie Johnson, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...