Bring Noise Reduction Plans Out In The Open

Readers write

September 16, 1990

From: Dennis Stevens

President, Airport Coordinating Team

The September 6, 1990, decision of Judge Warren Duckett Jr. of the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County to remand to the Board of Review of the Maryland Department of Transportation an appeal by the Airport Coordinating Team (ACT) indicates to us that major decisions regarding noise abatement procedures affecting the rights and physical environment of thousands of persons living in the vicinity of airport operations demand the type of review offered in the promulgation of regulations.

The appeal concerns the approval of the Airport Noise Zone and Noise Abatement Plan by Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) Administrator Theodore Mathison.

Yes, we are pleased with this ruling. The argument used by Charles Bell of the Attorney General's Office that the noise zone was merely an internal management tool was totally unacceptable to Judge Duckett.

It's incredible to us that something as important as a certified noise zone, which describes areas determined to be incompatible for housing and for which a state permit is required for certain construction and sound attenuation and voluntary buy-outs are offered (in the Ldn 70 and above noise contour), is considered an internal management tool.

It's as if noise is only to be internally managed -- perhaps relocated with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval from one community to another -- in response to complaints, but not reduced, except at the convenience of an air carrier and the FAA. Internal management implies something hidden from the public which is not available for public scrutiny.

ACT's basic points that should be considered by the Board of Review are:

1. The Airport Noise Zone that was certified Nov. 21, 1988, was not the noise zone shown during the public hearing.

2. Since the MAA did not consider the noise zone a regulation, which it is, procedures required for the adoption of a regulation were not followed.

3. The noise zone improperly incorporates proposed but as yet unapproved MAA projects.

4. The use of 1987 as a base year to compare effects of noise abatement is inappropriate. The 1982 certified noise zone, at 8,600 acres is a more proper base year. The zone developed for 1987 was calculated to be about 9,800 acres, and the 1988 zone was approximately 12,100 acres. Noise, it can be recalled, was a significant issue in 1987. In reality, 1987 was probably the noisiest year ever for BWI.

5. The Ldn metric is used only for determining average noise levels. We believe single-event-noise noise levels should also be used to describe the noise environment, and that the administrator should have evaluated the adequacy of the Ldn metric.

6. We believe the noise abatement plan to be insufficient and inappropriate because the certified noise zone of 1988 far exceeds the size of the noise zone for 1982. Where is the noise abatement? A voluntary conversion to Stage III aircraft (quieter aircraft, and part of the fleet of all airlines using BWI) is weak and unenforceable, and consequently ineffective. Earthen noise blocking and absorbing berms should again be evaluated.

These are our positions. What do you think?

ACT will again be meeting the 3rd Thursday of the month at George Cromwell Elementary School on Wellham Avenue near Ferndale, beginning on September 20, at 7:30 p.m.

We need your ideas and support. Please try to attend. Also, ACT is sponsoring a dance with a band on October 6, Saturday at the Ferndale Community Club.

Citizens must work together to be effective.

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