Under current FAA guidance, a golf course is considered an incompatible use on airport property.
The future of River Bend Golf Club depends a lot on the Federal Aviation Administration.
The city of Ormond Beach is currently weighing its options when it comes to the now-closed 171-acre golf course property near the municipal airport, and hopes to present an overview to the City Commission within the next month regarding next steps. A petition is floating around in the community urging River Bend be run as a municipal golf course, but the city may have its hands tied in that regard. As of Tuesday, Feb. 23, has almost 900 signatures.
Because the lease with the former tenant was terminated, the question remains whether running a golf course is a viable option at all, since golf courses are no longer a compatible use on airport property, according to the FAA. City Economic Development Director Brian Rademacher estimated the change in FAA guidance to take place sometime in the 2000s and said one factor to consider is that the city is obligated under FAA grant assurances to maintain properties adjacent to the airport under the limited uses outlined by the FAA.
“With airport land, you’ve got two different uses," Rademacher said. "You’ve got aeronautical uses and non-aeronautical uses, and in the case of the golf course, that’s a non-aeronautical use. But any activity that occurs on airport property, its intent and purpose is to generate revenue for the airport.”
While golf courses are a recreational amenity enjoyed by both tourists and locals, Rademacher said, that there is a difference between running a municipal golf course on airport property versus running one in general.
He explained that the FAA stance is that golf courses in proximity to airports could potentially encumber land that would otherwise be used for aeronautical purposes, and that certain hazards could impact airport operations, such as the congregation of people and the attraction of wildlife that could impact aviation safety.
Though the future use of the land is still undecided, there is one assurance: It won't be used for residential development.
Rademacher said determinations of how to use properties take time, especially considering the size of River Bend.
“There’s different flames in the fire that have to be vetted and looked at in order to come to a better understanding, but I think we’re moving forward in a methodical fashion that will allow us to better identify what’s going on and what our opportunities are," he said.