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Questions about owning a grass strip airport

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timberwolf8199

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Sep 3, 2011
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Grand Rapids area, MI, USA
There is a man near me who has his house/land up for sale. The land has a 2500' grass strip on it and it is listed as an airport. While the idea is very appealing to me, I'd like to know if anyone can enlighten me as to the details of owning an airport (or if you can tell me where to find such answers).

Does it have to remain as an airport once registered as such, or can it be used for something else if desired? (I'm thinking of zoning restrictions and things like the farmland preservation act)

are there any additional tax liabilities?

what type of maintenance would be required?

There is a home on the property, so I assume it is zoned residential...is this a bad assumption?

if it is zoned residential, would I be able to rent hangars to people without being considered a business?

what concerns should I have that I haven't mentioned, and are there any specific questions I should ask?

Edit: Moderators feel free to move this if it belongs elsewhere, I wasn't sure where to put it.
 

Dana

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Most of it depends on your local zoning.

Restrictions on keeping an airport an airport only apply to public airports that have received government funding.

I know know nothing about the tax situation, but I doubt there are any issues there unless you're renting hangar space, in which case it's income.

Maintenance, you need to cut the grass and maybe fill potholes. If it's for your own personal use you're not required to do anything.

For zoning questions, you have to look into the local situation... nobody here can answer. Sometimes airports are zoned as "open space", which would prevent you from subdividing it and building houses where the runway used to be. Not what you want to do but it could affect the property resale value.

There may be restrictions on the number of operation per day, or month, or whatever, but if it's a charted airport that may not apply.

If you rent hangars (zoning issues aside), then you no longer are protected by the "recreational liability statute" which would otherwise protect you if, say, a visiting pilot lands and breaks his airplane taxiing into a pothole. Under the recreational liability statue (every state has one, though the details vary) you're protected from liability until you charge money for the use of the property.

I'll move this to the "hangar flying" section.

-Dana

If it's not on fire, it's a software problem.
 

TFF

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Memphis, TN
I dont know if they have any "home business" rules there, but I bet it would fit that. Reality is you will have to treat the airport as a business if you want to protect yourself. I would bet if the place is old, it was started without any of these considerations, but I would not carry that into the future. I would also bet the insurance will be killer if not a private strip. It was probably operated un insured.
 

Tony

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Oct 28, 2011
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Springfield IL
Go get yourself a nice Ultralight, Take some lessons and enjoy your new hobby. Its alot of fun, you will learn alot not only about the sport of aviation but yourself. You will be a better person for doing it, there is no way around it.

There are those whom would love to have this chance, please do not destroy this field but use it. In this day and age its very hard to get into this hobby sport what have you. Hangar rent alone will break you in some parts.

Try it and you will like it......

Tony
 

Tony

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Oct 28, 2011
Messages
279
Location
Springfield IL
I dont know if they have any "home business" rules there, but I bet it would fit that. Reality is you will have to treat the airport as a business if you want to protect yourself. I would bet if the place is old, it was started without any of these considerations, but I would not carry that into the future. I would also bet the insurance will be killer if not a private strip. It was probably operated un insured.

In Illinois you can keep it as a private strip, the only ones allowed to land are those invited. I know one man whom says..NO ONE is Invited....Land at your own risk.....

Tony
 

Toobuilder

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Mojave, Ca
I too live on a private, 2500 foot strip - but have the misfortune of sharing it with several other people. As to your situation, your answers will be found at your local zoning office. Generally though, having your own airport is the best thing ever - just don't make the mistake of going into a partnership/association. That always causes problems. Keep it to yourself and enjoy being the envy of every other pilot in the world.
 

timberwolf8199

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Location
Grand Rapids area, MI, USA
There are those whom would love to have this chance, please do not destroy this field but use it.
...and I would be one of them. His asking price is a bit above what I can rationalize right now, but when I spoke with him he said check back in the spring. At this point it's still just dreaming, but if the opportunity arises I want to be prepared. The reason I asked about whether it would need to stay a field is precisely what Dana indicated....resale. Resale in the sense of how much is it worth so I didn't overpay, but also (while my intent would absolutely be to keep it as is, the reality of life does not always allow us to stick to our plans) to check on what I would be getting into should circumstances necessitate a sale/change.
 

timberwolf8199

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280
Location
Grand Rapids area, MI, USA
Would a 'recreational liability statute' be listed with the local zoning codes or at a state level. If the latter, what office/branch would I need to contact to find out more?

Same question regarding operations per day.



For sale.jpg
Edit: Added picture
 
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Toobuilder

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In California, the specific details of the field (operations per day, day/night, runway setback, etc) are found in the conditional use permit granted by the county. In my paticular case, our current 2500 length was developed by butting two airports together - the latter added some 15 years after the first. And yes, one half of our airport has a CUP, and the the other half has its own CUP. With 15 years between the two, one is much more restrictive than the other.
 

bmcj

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Fresno, California
I honestly LOVE grass strips, but the one thing to check on for a grass strip if you plan on using it year round is the water drainage. If not properly graded, water may pool, making the strip unsafe for landings. If you have time, visit the strip after a rain and see if there is standing water and how long it takes to drain.
 

Dana

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Recreational liabilty statutes are at the state level, and can be found here:

American Whitewater - Liability and Recreational Use Statutes

As for operations per day, generally there's a limit beyond which it has to be a registered airport. Both the state and the feds may have limits... but if it's already a registered airport than you probably don't have an issue there.

Many people have airports listed "private", which basically means "prior permission required", but they do that for the liability, and don't really care who drops in "without permission". My experience is that accounts for about half of all private strips; the other half really don't want anybody else around. There's even a private airport on Long Island, owned by the town, with a 10,000' paved runway and 30 jets based there, but it's still listed as "Private use. Permission required prior to landing."

-Dana

Why did the chicken cross the Mobius strip? To get to the other, er, um....
 

psween

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Jan 20, 2011
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7MN3
I own a grass strip(7MN3), in SE Minnesota, and might have some input. We are located in a rural township, so all zoned agricultural. The strip was built in 1978 and registered as a private field (requires our permission to land). Pretty much anyone with the integrity to give me a call first will have that permission. We have a number of folks who we've met in passing who've ended up dropping in for a visit. MN has a recreational land use statute, which protects us to a great extent from liability, that will vary state to state.

I also have a large hangar, and currently rent two spaces out. Pilots are responsible for their own insurance, we insure the building only, and the rental income is simply treated as any other rental property income. We've only lived here a bit over a year, but so far it's been wonderful. Our strip is 2700' and the previous owner flew a Bonanza and a Baron off it, so it'll handle anything I'm likely to fly. As for maintenance, we mow it and fill the occasional badger hole, but that's about it. We have a sandy site, so it drains well. We've flown off it within a few hours of a couple inches of rain and don't get any wet spots. It takes about 2.5 hours to mow it with a 6' JD mower. I've been on the lookout for a retired golf course fairway mower, but for now the smaller mower does ok. We have to mow about every 1-2 weeks depending on the weather.

Hope this helps,

Patrick
 

bmcj

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In case anyone is looking for a grass strip in California, just be aware that there is another type of "grass" that is legal in California, so be sure to specify which type of grass you are looking for. :gig:
 

autoreply

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Rotterdam, Netherlands
In case anyone is looking for a grass strip in California, just be aware that there is another type of "grass" that is legal in California, so be sure to specify which type of grass you are looking for. :gig:
Or - if you're over here - asking for a "coffee shop". No black liquids, but fuming grass...

On a more serious note, some inginuity as far as the zoning arrangements are concerned might help:
RedditPics - Apparently this farm owner was denied a council permit to build a horse shelter. Fortunately, you don't need a permit to build a table and chairs.

"The temple of Toruk" might be an idea ;)
 

208Caravan

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Nov 11, 2011
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GA
On my property I've 300 acres, and there's a spot that is about 3,500' long and 100' wide, I've got a 100' by 100' hanger on it. It's smooth as a babies butt, it's not registered as an airport, because it's not an airport, it's a field :gig:. But, to me it's my own little airport. I love having my own strip, much more freedom, only thing is that I have to cut it. But, it beats paying hanger rent, and having to deal with "those" certain people at airports. I've got a Cessna 185, zenith 801, and a F-1 Rocket. It has it's advantages, but be ready to work for it. ;)
 

SVSUSteve

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Evansville, Indiana
bmcj said:
If not properly graded, water may pool, making the strip unsafe for landings.
The same can be said for hard surface runways as well. The well-publicized problems with the runway at Sao Paulo, Brazil is a perfect example of this.

Cessna208 said:
having to deal with "those" certain people at airports.
Are you referring to TSA or do you just have some real douchebag hangar rats down your way?

Cessna208 said:
love having my own strip, much more freedom, only thing is that I have to cut it.
Yeah....I would love to have my own private airport but I have no desire to mow it nor do I think the types of aircraft I like to fly would be great for a grass strip and plus I don't like being limited to daytime operations. Maybe I will hit the lottery so I can put in a hard surface runway someday.
 

Dana

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Yeah....I would love to have my own private airport but I have no desire to mow it nor do I think the types of aircraft I like to fly would be great for a grass strip and plus I don't like being limited to daytime operations. Maybe I will hit the lottery so I can put in a hard surface runway someday.
Most aircraft are capable of operating from a good grass runway. Of course that takes more work to maintain than the average bumpy private grass strip. And there's nothing that says you can't light a grass strip for night operations...

-Dana

Question Authority... and the authorities will question you!
 
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