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Airport asks for public input on noise plan

Airport officials need to update their noise exposure maps, and they’re asking the public to help.

As required by the Federal Aviation Administration, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is working with Landrum & Brown to create new maps showing which areas receive what levels of noise from air traffic. The most recent maps are from 1998.

Six public meetings will be held, but only two have been announced.

The first meeting is 6-8 p.m. July 30 at Charlotte-Mecklenburg West Service Center, 4150 Wilkinson Blvd. The following night, a 6-8 p.m. meeting will be held at Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, 7407 Steele Creek Road. Both are drop-ins. Neither will have formal presentations, and the same information will be on display at both.

A draft exposure map to include the public input is expected this winter, with a final map next summer. It will account for both decibel level and when those decibels occur, day or night. The project will update the map for 2015, and help create a 2020 map.

Airport officials met with dozens of residents earlier this year during the Steele Creek Residents Association annual meeting. Residents wanted to know what landing and takeoff changes might impact their property values and what areas the airport might look to purchase for future expansion. Some residents complained of more noise in recent months because of planes flying lower and maintaining takeoff direction longer.

But not all residents are complaining. Jerry Hunter and Ronald Sills are two of 16 members with a neighborhood task force set up in 1989 to offer a voice to residents nearest the airport.

“We live right under it, so it doesn’t bother us too much,” Hunter said. “We’re used to it.”

Sills and Hunter say there is noise, but the airport does all it can to minimize it.

Since implementing its federal noise program in 1987, the airport has spent more than $67 million in home buyout, noise abatement, noise mitigation and property rezoning. Almost 1,000 homes, six churches and three schools have been insulated. Almost 400 properties in high noise zones, including mobile home parks, have been purchased.

Noise contour maps were created in 1996 and 2006. Charlotte adopted a noise overlay district in 1999 requiring real estate agents to disclose noise information to prospective buyers within the district that stretches as far south as the Sandy Porter Road and South Tryon intersection, and reaches Lake Wylie on the west off Dixie River Road.

Autry Septic Tank Service began in 1929, and for years operated on Byrum Drive just south of the airport’s runways. The airport worked about five years to buy out the company’s property for a landing strip, leading them to move to Westinghouse Boulevard about a year ago.

All of Byrum Drive sits in the path of air traffic.

“It was loud,” Christian said. “It would rattle the walls.”

Not everyone is concerned with airport noise. Paige Burton and Haley Thomas are members of Judah Church that meets at Berewick Recreation Center. Both say they’re aware of air traffic, but aren’t both

Burton focuses on what air traffic provides.

“I love it,” she said. “I like watching the planes go by.”

The latest noise map revisions are “due to aircraft fleet changes and recent changes in runway operations,” according to the airport. Last year, the FAA temporarily suspended operation of non-intersecting runways. That move left the airport with only three parallel runways during the day, which in turn saw more traffic.

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