MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Afton man is facing several charges for having an airstrip on his property.
Jeffrey Walker, 57, faces five misdemeanor counts in Washington County for violating the city’s restrictions for airstrips.
The airstrip in question is 2,200-feet long and was built by Walker himself — a few hundred yards from his house. While he didn’t want to talk on camera, Walker, a licensed pilot, said flying is his hobby and he built the airstrip in 2003 for personal use.
Investigators say Walker incorporated his airfield with the Minnesota Secretary of State under the names Walker Field LLC and Top Gun Aviation, and it appears on MapQuest and other navigation websites.
The runway is clearly visible from the air, and prosecutors say it’s listed by the Federal Aviation Administration as a private airport. Walker believes the FAA recognition gives him the right to have the airfield on his property, but the city disagrees.
The city said Walker is in violation of two Afton ordinances: one prohibits private airfields within city limits, and the other prohibits airplanes from taking off and landing within the city.
The city administrator said they’ve received several complaints from neighbors over the past year, citing noise and safety concerns. In charges filed in Washington County, prosecutors said planes were witnessed taking off and landing in April and again in early October.
Neighbor Rodney Eggers moved into the neighborhood a year and a half ago. He said he’s only heard the planes a couple times.
“Every once in a great while, it’s not like it’s every other day or something. It’s never really bothered me. He’s got enough land there. It’s his land. He can do it if he wants,” Eggers said. “It’s a little loud, but after, you know, a couple minutes it’s up in the air and that’s it.”
Afton’s city administrator said they received complaints about Walker’s airstrip 10 years ago, as well.