Article 4.

Model Airport Zoning Act.

§ 63-29:  Repealed by Session Laws 1971, c.  936, s. 1.


§ 63-30.  Airport hazards not in public interest.

It is hereby found and declared that an airport hazard endangers the lives and property of users of the airport and of occupants of land in its vicinity, and also, if of the obstruction type, in effect reduces the size of the area available for the landing, taking off and maneuvering of aircraft, thus tending to destroy or impair the utility of the airport and the public investment therein, and is therefore not in the interest of the public health, public safety, or general welfare. (1941, c. 250, s. 2.)


§ 63-31.  Adoption of airport zoning regulations.

(a)        Every political subdivision may adopt, administer, and enforce, under the police power and in the manner and upon the conditions hereinafter prescribed, airport zoning regulations, which regulations shall divide the area surrounding any airport within the jurisdiction of said political subdivision into zones, and, within such zones, specify the land uses permitted, and regulate and restrict the height to which structures and trees may be erected or allowed to grow.  In adopting or revising any such zoning regulations, the political subdivision shall consider, among other things, the character of the flying operations expected to be conducted at the airport, the nature of the terrain, the height of existing structures and trees above the level of the airport, the possibility of lowering or removing existing obstructions, and the views of the agency of the federal government charged with the fostering of civil aeronautics, as to the aerial approaches necessary to safe flying operations at the airport.

(b)        In the event that a political subdivision has adopted, or hereafter adopts, a general zoning ordinance regulating, among other things, the height of buildings, any airport zoning regulations adopted for the same area or portion thereof under this Article may be incorporated in and made a part of such general zoning regulations, and be administered and enforced in connection therewith, but such general zoning regulations shall not limit the effectiveness or scope of the regulations adopted under this Article.

(c)        Any two or more political subdivisions may agree, by ordinance duly adopted, to create a joint board and delegate to said board the powers herein conferred to promulgate, administer and enforce airport zoning regulations to protect the aerial approaches of any airport located within the corporate limits of any one or more of said political subdivisions.  Such joint board shall have as members two representatives appointed by the chief executive officer of each political subdivision participating in the creation of said board and a chairman elected by a majority of the members so appointed.

(d)       The jurisdiction of each political subdivision is hereby extended to the promulgating, adopting, administering and enforcement of airport zoning regulations to protect the approaches of any airport or landing field which is owned by said political subdivision, although the area affected by the zoning regulations may be located outside the corporate limits of said political subdivision.  In case of conflict with any airport zoning or other regulations promulgated by any political subdivision, the regulations adopted pursuant to this section shall prevail.

(e)        All airport zoning regulations adopted under this Article shall be reasonable, and none shall require the removal, lowering, or other change or alteration of any structure or tree not conforming to the regulations when adopted or amended, or otherwise interfere with the continuance of any nonconforming use, except as provided in G.S. 63-32, subsection (a).

(f)        A political subdivision may not adopt an airport zoning regulation in violation of G.S. 63A-18. (1941, c. 250, s. 3; 1945, cc. 300, 635; 1991, c. 749, s. 3.)


§ 63-32.  Permits, new structures, etc., and variances.

(a)        Permits. - Where advisable to facilitate the enforcement of zoning regulations adopted pursuant to this Article, a system may be established by any political subdivision for the granting of permits to establish or construct new structures and other uses and to replace existing structures and other uses or make substantial changes therein or substantial repairs thereof. In any event, before any nonconforming structure or tree may be replaced, substantially altered or repaired, rebuilt, allowed to grow higher, or replanted, a permit must be secured from the administrative agency authorized to administer and enforce the regulations, authorizing such replacement, change or repair. No such permit shall be granted that would allow the structure or tree in question to be made higher or become a greater hazard to air navigation than it was when the applicable regulation was adopted; and whenever the administrative agency determines that a nonconforming structure or tree has been abandoned or more than eighty percent (80%) torn down, destroyed, deteriorated, or decayed: (i) no permit shall be granted that would allow said structure or tree to exceed the applicable height limit or  otherwise deviate from the zoning regulations; and (ii) whether application is made for a permit under this paragraph or not, the said agency may by appropriate action compel the owner of the nonconforming structure or tree, at his own expense, to lower, remove, reconstruct, or equip such object as may be necessary to conform to the regulations or, if the owner of the nonconforming structure or tree shall neglect or refuse to comply with such order for 10 days after notice thereof, the said agency may proceed to have the object so lowered, removed, reconstructed, or equipped. Except as indicated, all applications for permits for replacement, change or repair of nonconforming uses shall be granted.

(b)        Variances. - Any person desiring to erect any structures, or increase the height of any structure, or permit the growth of any tree, or otherwise use his property, in violation of airport zoning regulations adopted under this Article, may apply to the board of appeals, as provided in G.S. 63-33, subsection (c), for a variance from the zoning regulations in question. Such variances shall be allowed where a literal application or enforcement of the regulations would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship and the relief granted would not be contrary to the public interest but do substantial justice and be in accordance with the spirit of the regulations and this Article.

(c)        Obstruction Marking and Lighting. - In granting any permit or variance under this section, the administrative agency or board of appeals may, if it deems such action advisable to effectuate the purposes of this Article and reasonable in the circumstances, so condition such permit or variance as to require the owner of the structure or tree in question to permit the political subdivision, at  its own expense, to install, operate, and maintain suitable obstruction markers and obstruction lights thereon. (1941, c. 250, s. 4.)


§ 63-33.  Procedure.

(a)        Adoption of Zoning Regulations. - No airport zoning regulations shall be adopted, amended, or changed under this Article except by action of the legislative body of the political subdivision in question, or the joint board provided for in G.S. 63-31, subsection (c), after a public hearing in relation thereto, at which parties in interest and citizens shall have an opportunity to be heard. At least 10 days' notice of the hearing shall be published in an official paper, or a paper of general circulation, in the political subdivision or subdivisions in which the airport is located.

(b)        Administration of Zoning Regulations - Administrative Agency. - The legislative body of any political subdivision adopting airport zoning regulations under this Article may delegate the duty of administering and enforcing such regulations to any administrative agency under its jurisdiction, or may create a new administrative agency to perform such duty, but such administrative agency shall not be or include any member of the board of appeals. The duties of such administrative agency shall include that of hearing and deciding all permits under G.S. 63-32, subsection (a), but such agency shall not have or exercise any of the powers delegated to the board of appeals.

(c)        Administration of Airport Zoning Regulations - Board of Appeals. - Airport zoning regulations adopted under this Article shall provide for a board of appeals to have and exercise the following powers:

(1)        To hear and decide appeals from any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by the administrative agency in the enforcement of this Article or of any ordinance adopted pursuant thereto;

(2)        To hear and decide special exceptions to the terms of the ordinance upon which such board may be required to pass under such ordinance;

(3)        To hear and decide specific variances under G.S. 63-32, subsection (b).

Where a zoning board of appeals or adjustment already exists, it  may be appointed as the board of appeals. Otherwise, the board of appeals shall consist of five members, each to be appointed for a term of three years and to be removable for cause by the appointing authority upon written charges and after public hearing.

The board shall adopt rules in accordance with the provisions of any ordinance adopted under this Article. Meetings of the board shall be held at the call of the chairman and at such other times as the board may determine. The chairman, or in his absence the acting chairman, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All meetings of the board shall be public. The board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall immediately be filed in the office of the board and shall be a public record.

Appeals to the board may be taken by any person aggrieved, or by any officer, department, board, or bureau of the political subdivision affected, by any decision of the administrative agency. An appeal must be taken within a reasonable time, as provided by the rules of the board, by filing with the agency from which the appeal is taken and with the board, a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof. The agency from which the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.

An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the agency from which the appeal is taken certifies to the board, after the notice of appeal has been filed with it, that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate a stay would, in its opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property. In such case proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order which may be granted by the board or by a court of record on application on notice to the agency from which the appeal is taken and on due cause shown.

The board shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal, give public notice and due notice to the parties in interest, and decide the same within a reasonable time. Upon the hearing any party may appear in person or by agent or by attorney.

The board may, in conformity with the provisions of this Article, reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or modify, the order, requirement, decision or determination appealed from and may make such order, requirement, decision or determination as ought to be made, and to that end shall have all the powers of the administrative agency from which the appeal is taken.

The concurring vote of a majority of the members of the board shall be sufficient to reverse any order, requirement, decision, or determination of the administrative agency, or to decide in favor of the applicant on any matter upon which it is required to pass under any such ordinance, or to effect any variation in such ordinance. (1941, c. 250, s. 5; 1981, c. 891, s. 11.)


§ 63-34.  Judicial review.

(a)        Any person aggrieved by any decision of the board of appeals, or any taxpayer, or any officer, department, board, or bureau of the political subdivision, may present to the superior court a verified petition setting forth that the decision is illegal, in whole or in part, and specifying the grounds of the illegality. Such petition shall be presented to the court within 30 days after the decision is filed in the office of the board. Such petition shall comply with the provisions of G.S. 160A-393.

(b)        The allowance of the writ shall not stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from, but the court may, on application, on notice to the board and on due cause shown, grant a restraining order.

(c)        The board of appeals shall not be required to return the original papers acted upon by it, but it shall be sufficient to return certified or sworn copies thereof or of such portions thereof as may be called for by the writ. The return shall concisely set forth such other facts as may be pertinent and material to show the grounds of the decision appealed from and shall be verified.

(d)       Repealed by Session Laws 2009-421, s. 3, effective January 1, 2010.

(e)        Costs shall not be allowed against the board of appeals unless it appears to the court that it acted with gross negligence, in bad faith, or with malice, in making the decision appealed from.  (1941, c. 250, s. 6; 2009-421, s. 3.)


§ 63-35.  Enforcement and remedies.

Each violation of this Article or of any regulations, order, or ruling promulgated or made pursuant to this Article, shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor, and each day a violation continues to exist shall constitute a separate offense.  In addition, the political subdivision within which the property is located may institute in any court of competent jurisdiction, an action to prevent, restrain, correct or abate any violation of this Article, or of airport zoning regulations adopted under this Article, or of any order or ruling made in connection with their administration or enforcement, and the court shall adjudge to the plaintiff such relief, by way of injunction (which may be mandatory) or otherwise, as may be proper under all the facts and circumstances of the case, in order fully to effectuate the purposes of this Article and of the regulations adopted and orders and rulings made pursuant thereto. (1941, c. 250, s. 7; 1993, c. 539, s. 498; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)


§ 63-36.  Acquisition of air rights.

In any case in which:

(1)        It is desired to remove, lower, or otherwise terminate a nonconforming use; or

(2)        The approach protection necessary cannot, because of constitutional limitations, be provided by airport zoning regulations under this Article; or

(3)        It appears advisable that the necessary approach protection be provided by acquisition of property rights rather than by  airport zoning regulations,

the political subdivision within which the property or nonconforming use is located or the political subdivision owning the airport or served by it may acquire, in the manner provided by the law under which municipalities are authorized to acquire real property for public purposes, such an air right, easement, or other estate or interest in the property or nonconforming use in question as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this Article.

If any political subdivision, or if any board or administrative agency appointed or selected by a political subdivision, shall adopt, administer or enforce any airport zoning regulations which results in the taking of, or in any other injury or damage to any existing structure, such political subdivision shall be liable therefor in damages to the owner or owners of any such property and the liability of the political subdivision shall include any expense which the owners of such property are required to incur in complying with any such zoning regulations. (1941, c. 250, s. 8.)


§ 63-37.  Short title.

This Article shall be known and may be cited as the "Model  Airport Zoning Act." (1941, c. 250, s. 10.)


§ 63-37.1.  Airport obstructions illegal.

Any person, other than the owner or operator of an airport, who intentionally obstructs the lawful takeoff and landing operations and patterns of aircraft at an existing public or private airport shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1995, c. 507, s. 19.5(m).)