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Environmental Sustainability | Airport Zoning Ordinance | Noise Abatement | Storm Water/Glycol Environment | Storm Water/Deicing Program Improvements 


The Kent County Department of Aeronautics views its environmental sustainability efforts as an integral part of its mission and is committed to reducing the Airport’s impact on the natural environment.  Environmental sustainability has been demonstrated as a core component of the Airport’s mission since before the Airport opened at it’s current site in 1963.

The Department of Aeronautics has met many milestones in environmental achievements and in resource conservation over the years.  While we take pride in these achievements, under our continuous improvement value, we remain engaged in examining all facets of our Airport operation for additional environmental sustainability opportunities.

The 2014 Environmental Sustainability Report is now available. The purpose of this report is to provide the Department of Aeronautics, and the general public with the history, inventory, and current status of the Kent County Department of Aeronautics’ efforts in the area of Environmental Sustainability.

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In 1950 the State of Michigan passed into law the Michigan Airport Zoning Act. The purpose of this act was to protect airspace necessary for the safe flight of aircraft in landing or takeoff at an airport. The Act provides the opportunity for political subdivisions to adopt, establish, administer, and enforce airport zoning regulations limiting the height of structures and objects of natural growth, and otherwise regulating the use of property within the vicinity of publicly owned airports such as Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

As the airport was being constructed at the current location in 1961, Kent County adopted the Kent County Airport Zoning Ordinance to provide aviation safety and protection to the users of the airport and to the people who live and work in its vicinity. Then, because of changes in runway configuration, the ordinance was updated in 1995.

The updated ordinance limits the height of structures within the vicinity of the airport through an application and permit process. The ordinance requires that persons proposing to construct structures make application for an Airport Zoning Permit. Structures include buildings, signs, construction equipment, antenna towers, and even trees, all of which can pose a very real threat to aviation safety. Every year applications are received for proposed cellular/PCS antenna towers, buildings requiring a height variance from your local planning authority, construction cranes, and other structures.

Should you consider construction of any of the above-mentioned structures within a 10-mile radius of the airport, please call the Airport Zoning office at 616-233-6000 and ask for the Airport Planning Engineer, who will explain the Airport Zoning Permit process and assist you in determining if your proposed construction will require an Airport Zoning Permit. If so, you will be given assistance in filing an application for an Airport Zoning Permit. Of you can complete the Airport Zoning Permit online and submit to the Department of Aeronautics offices.

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In 1979 the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act (ASNA Act) was signed into law. Under the authority of ASNA, the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 150 (now the Code of Federal Regulation 14 CFR Part 150) was developed. This regulation prescribes procedures, standards, and methodology for airports participating in the voluntary development of Noise Exposure Maps (NEMs) and Noise Compatibility Programs (NCPs).

NEMs are geographic depictions of an airport, the surrounding community, and the annual noise level contours expressed in a day-night average sound level (DNL). DNL is the federal standard for measuring average sound impacts around airports. The NCP is a program developed in accordance with the 14 CFR Part 150 regulation, which includes measures proposed or taken by the airport operator (Kent County Department of Aeronautics) to reduce existing non-compatible land uses and to prevent the introduction of new non-compatible land uses within the airport area.

In 1988 the Kent County Department of Aeronautics voluntarily initiated a 14 CFR Part 150 Study. The products of this study were federally accepted NEMs and a federally approved NCP. Then in 1999/2000 the Department updated the NEMs, which received federal acceptance on December 27, 2000.

The approved NCP for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport includes 10 program measures. Since approval of this voluntary NCP, the Department of Aeronautics has implemented nine of these measures, and one has been removed from consideration because of lack of a demonstrated need. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has now completed its NCP.

View the 2005 Noise Exposure Map

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In compliance with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Michigan Act 451, the Kent County Department of Aeronautics has an approved Storm Water Management Program Plan (SWMPP). Developed as a requirement of the airport’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit, which is administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environmental (MDNRE), the Plan describes activities to ensure the quality of storm water discharged from the facility. This permit contains requirements necessary for the Department of Aeronautics to comply with state and federal storm water pollution control laws. The backbone of the Plan includes best management practices the airport uses to address six measures for minimizing and preventing storm water pollution, including: 1) Public Education Program, 2) Public Involvement and Participation, 3) Illicit Discharge Elimination Program, 4) Post-Construction Storm Water Management, 5) Construction Storm Water Runoff Control, and 6) Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping.

Under this permit the Department of Aeronautics is tasked with monitoring and reporting responsibilities, as well as several methods used to control storm water discharge from airport property. Also, the airport and airlines utilize Best Management Practices (BMPs) and equipment to comply with the conditions of the permit. Included in the permit are restrictions as to where airport deicing operations may occur. The equipment includes two mobile deicing collection units for vacuuming fluid from aircraft ramp areas and catch basin insert valves to allow capture of deicing fluid prior to entering the storm water system, along with monitoring equipment to allow for proper monitoring and sampling of airport runoff to ensure compliance with the permit.

The Department of Aeronautics and environmental consultants work throughout the year to comply with the NPDES permit. Additionally, major investment items, such as the mobile collection units, are programmed into the airport's capital budget for scheduled purchase and replacement.

You can download the full Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures / Pollution Incident Prevention Plan (SPCC/PIPP) here. (NOTE: This 261-page document file is 7.7 MB)

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