Education and persistence have paid off for members of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Jacksonville, Fla.
For more than a year, EAA members have been fighting a city ordinance that prohibited the parking, storing, repairing, building and operating of aircraft and airboats in residential neighborhoods.
On Sept. 25 the City Council voted to repeal the ordinance.
“There were 15 council members at the meeting and all 15 voted to repeal it,” said Milford Shirley, the president of EAA Chapter 193.
The chapter campaigned for the repeal by educating council members about the hobby of building aircraft at home. Their mission was to show them that building an aircraft in a garage is very similar to other hobbies, such as working on a car or building furniture.
“It wasn’t fair to single us out,” said Shirley.
He noted that although the anti-aircraft ordinance has been repealed, the council is looking at changing zoning that would also impact car repair, welding and other industrial hobbies in residential areas.
“We will keep an eye on that,” he said. “We don’t want restrictions, but as long as they are across the board and we are not being singled out, we can live with them.”
Jacksonville City Councilman Clay Yarborough, who is the representative of the neigborhood that spawned the ordinance, told GAN that the issue was really a dispute between neighbors and never should have gone before the council.
The ordinance was created in June 2006 when homebuilder Brian Kraut became embroiled in a dispute with his neighbors Norma and Edward Everett.
According to Edward Everett, the issue was not necessarily about airplanes, but that Kraut is not considerate of his neighbors when he pursues his hobby.
Everett told General Aviation News that Kraut often works on airplanes in the garage or in his driveway late into the night with bright lights and an air compressor.
“The driveway is a few feet from our bedroom window. It is like living next to a shipyard,” he said.
Kraut told GAN that Everett’s complaints are exaggerated, but noted that he was once cited for having an aircraft on a trailer in his yard.
Everett noted that Kraut routinely violated the ordinance.
“He has pulled out the airplane and cranked the engine twice in the past year on a Sunday, blowing oil and fumes all over my yard,” said Everett. “He knew that there is no way there would be any enforcement of the ordinance then.”
Kraut admits that he never stopped pursuing his hobby inside his own garage.
At one point, EAA headquarters in Oshkosh became involved in the issue because of concerns that copy-cat ordinances would spring up in other cities. None have.