A showing by members of the Experimental Aircraft Association during a Feb. 27 meeting of the Jacksonville, Fla., City Council has prompted the councilman who penned Ordinance 2006-543-E to rework the measure.
The ordinance, which was adopted last summer, bars anyone from building, repairing, testing, operating, modifying, or altering flying craft or airboats anywhere on a residential lot.
According to Brian Kraut, a pilot and aircraft builder in Jacksonville, the ordinance was created because of problems he had with his next-door neighbors, Norma and Edward Everett.
In a previous interview with General Aviation News, Kraut alleged that the Everetts made repeated calls to city officials “to complain about everything from how and where I park my vehicles to not taking in my trash cans in a timely manner on trash day to how long the lawn is.”
Kraut received warnings from zoning enforcement officials about parking vehicles on his property, including a project airplane that was on a trailer.
Edward Everett stated that Kraut’s allegations of constant complaints are exaggerated and the real issue is not the airplanes, but that Kraut is not considerate of his neighbors when he pursues his hobby.
“He builds airplanes on his driveway, which is 10 feet from our bedroom window,” Everett explained. “He’d be out there at night until nine, 10, 11, sometimes as late as one in the morning. Numerous times I asked him to curb the noise and turn out the light. He had a halogen light and pointed it to my bedroom. I went over and knocked on the door and asked him to turn it off. He informed me that I was trespassing and to get off his property.”
Eventually the issue wound up in court. According to Jeff Ludwig, the attorney who is representing Kraut, when the Everetts did not get the results they wanted through the courts, they appealed to City Councilman Lake Ray.
Kraut in turn appealed to the aviation community and created a website to educate the public, noting that if city officials in Jacksonville could adopt an ordinance that limits homebuilt aircraft, then it could happen in other cities as well.
Although it has been months since the ordinance was enacted, it is still on the minds of aircraft builders in Jacksonville.
During the public comment period of the Feb. 27 City Council meeting, several local EAA members stepped forward to complain about the restrictive ordinance, Ludwig reported.
“After about the fourth or fifth person spoke, Lake Ray stood up and said ‘I am the person responsible for this ordinance and I’d like to fix this. Will all of you who have spoken please meet me in the back of the room,'” said Ludwig.
“The meeting was an unqualified success!” states EAA Chapter 193 President Milford Shirley. “Councilman Ray agrees that either a repeal or complete rewrite needs to be done, and he has asked us to do it.”
Shirley added that during the course of the discussion it was learned that Ray took flying lessons for a time, but quit after he soloed. “I have invited him to come to one of our regular meetings,” said Shirley.
Ray was not available for comment at press time, however a spokesman from his office confirmed that he was planning to rework the language of the ordinance.
In the meantime, says Ludwig, Kraut still has to appear in court to answer charges of allegedly violating the ordinance.
“No date has been set,” said Ludwig.
For more information: JaxAirplane.com.