As a part of its plans to protect and develop the economic vitality of the North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field, the NTRA Zoning Board held a workshop to amend and discuss a draft zoning ordinance, on Tuesday. In its last meeting in December, the Board, which is made up of two representatives each from Grayson County, Sherman, Denison, and Pottsboro, elected Phil Roether as its chairman.

As a part of its plans to protect and develop the economic vitality of the North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field, the NTRA Zoning Board held a workshop to amend and discuss a draft zoning ordinance, on Tuesday. In its last meeting in December, the Board, which is made up of two representatives each from Grayson County, Sherman, Denison, and Pottsboro, elected Phil Roether as its chairman.


This was the first meeting the Board has held to review the potential ordinance, which will set guidelines and regulations on developments surrounding the airport. The goal of the ordinance is to protect the development of the airport by preventing developments and structures that might prove to be hazards for aircraft in the vicinity of the airport. The Board also aims to prevent developments that may be negatively impacted by symptoms of its proximity the airport, including noise.


"It won’t tell (property owners) what they can do with their property," said Roether, mirroring previous comments. "It will tell them what they can’t do with it."


In its initial draft of the ordinance, the Board split the area surrounding the airport into two primary zones. Zone A includes areas that are overflown at low altitudes, primarily encompassing areas at the end of the runways. The ordinance would limit residential uses, and nonresidential uses that would attract large amounts of people, including shopping centers, labor-intensive manufacturing plants, and multi-story office buildings. Area B, which encompasses areas that contain regular aircraft traffic patterns, has smaller restrictions.


Representing the city of Sherman, Ryan Johnson asked for clarifications on a restriction on public services in Zone A. Johnson wished to know if this included water-treatment, sewer or other low-density services that would not prove to be a height risk for aircraft.The Board also asked for increased clarification on restrictions on water developments in Zone A, such as detention ponds, which might attract birds.


The Board asked for increased clarification in regards to Grayson County’s portion of the surrounding areas and who would be the governing entity for developments in those areas. The Board wished to clarify if that would fall under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners Court or the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority.


Johnson voiced concern over having four separate governing bodies issuing their own variances for the areas surrounding the airport. Jason Sofey, representing Sherman, mirrored that concern, stating that it set a bad precedent for future developments. Johnson brought up the possibility of the NTRA acting as a central agency overseeing appeals as a potential solution to the problem.


Johnson raised further concerns over which agency would be responsible for extending the avigation easement and issuing compensation for properties surrounding the airport, if the runways were to ever be extended. NTRA Airport Director Mike Shahan said there are not any plans to extend the runways, currently.


"To go into this blindly saying, ‘We will cross this bridge when we get there’ is not prudent," said Johnson.


Kevin Farley, representing Pottsboro, asked for a possible exception from some portions of the ordinance for temporary events and structures.


Roether said, at the end of the meeting, that he plans to meet with as many property owners as possible before the next meeting to let them know what they should expect from the finalized version of the ordinance. Johnson said that he has been approached by people who didn’t fully understand the ordinance, and welcomed the opportunity to educate residents on what it means. Johnson said his goal for Sherman was to protect the prosperity of the airport, while also protecting nearby developments, including the highway 82/289 corridor.


"It is the Board’s belief that we need to protect the airport," said Roether, after the meeting. "It is also our belief that we need to protect our property owners. It is a balance."