September 7, 2016 · 1 Comments
PARIS, IL. (ECWd) –
On August 27, 2016, Gary Henry reported that Robert Howrey stated “IDOT estimates approximately half of the county-owned airports in Illinois are not zoned.” He also stated “IDOT was not willing to acknowledge de facto zoning existed because of FAA rules, which take precedence over local action because Bogue raised the question...”
We had previously reported on March 16, 2016, Edgar County had the only county-owned airport in Illinois where the airport did not have zoning in the county. The article was in response to County Board Member Heltsley’s inaccurate comment that “This not only affects us . . . many downstate airports are located in areas without zoning.”
After reading Henry’s article, a FOIA request was immediately fired off to IDOT Div of Aeronautics for two purposes; first, to see if the claim was accurate, and second, to correct our past article if IDOT’s information was correct. Turned out the claim was not correct and we did not have to correct our article.
First, to the second comment from Robert Howrey about the so-called “de facto zoning” – the statute requires Edgar County to enact zoning for airport purposes.:
No land may be used for the expansion of airport landing fields until it has been zoned for airport purposes by the county or municipality having the zoning power over such land, as the case may be.
That statutory language throws out any acknowledgment of any “de facto zoning” by IDOT. FAA rules apply for airport safety purposes. Federal grants even state that recipient must follow all federal and state law and rules. Edgar County failed to do that.
AIRPORTS WITHOUT ZONING ?
Received today from IDOT in response to a FOIA request – which was not the requested information (county airports without zoning was what was requested):
This letter is in response to your Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request dated August 28, 2016, and received by the Illinois Department of Transportation on August 29, 2016. We conducted a search and found the following information responsive to your Request. Below please find a list of county sponsored airports that the Department has identified via the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Please be advised, that pursuant to the 630 ILCS 40, The General County Airport and Landing Field Act, the zoning requirements of these airports fall under the jurisdiction of the individual counties. Therefore, please direct any specific zoning inquires for each airport to the appropriate county.
Effingham County Memorial
Williamson County Regional
Coles County Memorial
Vermilion County Regional Airport
Whiteside County-Jos H Bittorf Field
IDOT responded that the above 11 airports are county-owned (sponsored) airports and that the zoning requirements of 630 ILCS 40 fall under the jurisdiction of individual counties. I read that as an indication IDOT believed these 11 airports to be county-owned and fall under 630 ILCS 40.
Finally, Gary Henry could have written an article that was factually correct by simply questioning Robert Howrey and/or IDOT Division of Aeronautics for clarification on how they came about stating that “approximately half of the county-owned airports in Illinois are not zoned.”
It is not true, and Edgar County is the ONLY Illinois Airport owned by a county falling under 630 ILCS 40 which does not have zoning.
The issue is whether or not Edgar County was unique among other airports, and they are unique being the only airport in its situation without zoning as we previously reported.
We don’t know if IDOT just stated something without checking it for accuracy, or if what they said was misunderstood by the receiver of the message. Either way, we have once again provided our readers with the correct information.
Another FOIA request has been sent to IDOT for further clarification on their response to the first FOIA – just in case we or they missed something important.
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