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Airport Construction and Expansion

Reference Number: MTAS-79
Reviewed Date: 08/14/2023

Authority to Use City Resources
Any city may use public funds to plan, establish, develop, construct, enlarge, improve, equip, operate, regulate, protect, and police airports and air navigation facilities, whether or not they are inside city boundaries. A city may use land it already owns, or a city may acquire land through purchase, gift, lease, or eminent domain. Land also may be acquired for aviation easements or to remove or protect against airport hazards. County approval is required before a city may acquire property outside its corporate limits by eminent domain for an airport. T.C.A. § 42-5-103.

A city also may acquire existing airport or air navigation facilities by any of the above means. However, if the facility is owned or controlled by the state or other public agency, it may not be taken over without that agency’s consent. T.C.A. § 42-5-104.

The city may not be prevented from going onto the land in question to conduct surveys and other examinations relating to the proceedings. It may take possession of the land any time after initiating proceedings and may abandon such proceedings any time before a final decree is entered. T.C.A. § 42-5-108.

Annexation of Airport Property
If three or more municipalities and counties jointly create a regional airport commission and the regional airport property is not located within a municipality’s boundary, no municipality may annex any regional airport property without the prior consent of the legislative bodies of the participating municipalities and counties. T.C.A. § 6-51-117.

The property of an airport with regularly scheduled commercial passenger service that is in a county rather than in the creating municipality is an annexation-free zone unless the annexation is approved by the governing body of the creating municipality. T.C.A. § 6-58-116.

Construction Over Public Waters or Submerged Lands
Municipal airports may be established on any public waters, submerged lands, or reclaimed lands within or bordering the city’s territorial limits. T.C.A. § 42-5-105.