The Zoning Ordinance covering the airpark and operations there has been updated multiple times. Updates occurred in 1991,1995, 1996, 1998, 2003 and 2010. The 2003 Ordinance prohibited commercial operations, including transportation of passengers, flight instruction and airplane rental. The 2010 Ordinance modified language on flight instruction and added language redefining commercial operations to include a “profit” test.
The 2010 Ordinance redefinition is not legally correct under any interpretation of Texas law. The exchange of goods or services for value is a commercial activity, even if one counterpart is a non-profit, church, charity or governmental entity.
A basic tenet of municipal zoning is that the city must enact zoning that complies with its Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan describes limited operations at the airpark as limited recreational uses with commercial services available in Austin.
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A Residential airpark (also spelled air park) is also referred to as a "fly-in community". The word can also refer to a community specifically designed around an airport where the residents each would own their own airplane which they park in their hangar usually attached to the home or integrated into their home.
This type of airfield is very different from a General Aviation Reliever Airport, which are airports designated by the FAA to relieve congestion at Commercial Service Airports and to provide improved general aviation access to the overall community. These may be publicly or privately-owned.
The Lakeway Airpark is not designed to be, nor does it have the capability to be a reliever airport for ABIA.
Former Mayor Edwards likes to tell stories about the history of the airpark when the current ownership took control. On the first day (July 1, 1995) an airplane departed in the dark and struck a deer. Later that day a plane struck a buzzard feeding on the deer on takeoff. At the October “Grand Opening” two planes lost situational awareness and almost collided. One was piloted by legendary Cowboy Coach Landry.
In 2004, a plane crashed after takeoff killing 6 and striking a residence.
In 2019, a plane crashed on Lakeway Blvd. while attempting a landing. The pilot was a student undergoing primary flight instruction. One killed and one seriously injured.
There are additional accidents, non-fatal, which have occurred on the ground at the airpark.
Experts in Flight Safety will tell you that there is always room to improve operations.
A “Flight School” is an FAA certificated (approved) pilot school. This is a business that trains non-pilots for an FAA License. There is no flight school at the airpark.
Obtaining an FAA license is also called Primary Flight Instruction. It includes classroom training, ground instruction, flight instruction leading to a solo flight and then allowing the student pilot to accumulate the required 40 hours needed before testing and obtaining an FAA License.
Testimony in the 2019 FAA investigation confirms that Primary Flight Instruction is conducted at the airpark.