Model plane fliers hit turbulence

December 13, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Model airplanes flown near the closed John Owings Landfill are disturbing the peace of the neighborhood and scaring away wildlife, 19 residents are complaining to the county commissioners. But one plane enthusiast said that the planes are flown at least a half-mile from private property lines and that wildlife is not bothered by the planes' buzzing noise.

On Thursday, the commissioners reviewed a petition signed by the residents and recommended that residents talk with the county's Recreation and Parks Board.

The residents are asking that the county not renew a permit allowing the Westminster AeroModelers Club to fly radio-controlled planes at the site off Route 97 near the Humane Society, Hashawha Environmental Center and John Owings Landfill.

The club has had a permit to fly the planes there since Aug. 25, said Richard Soisson, assistant director of Carroll's Department of Recreation and Parks.

The permit expires Dec. 31.

Janet Long, who lives in the 2500 block of Littlestown Pike, said

the planes sound like small lawn mowers.

Club members fly them on the weekends and during some weekday afternoons, she said.

She said her family moved to Carroll from Prince George's County 3 1/2 years ago to get away from noise.

Kathryn S. Rickell, who has lived in the 2500 block of Littlestown Pike for a year, said she is concerned that the planes scare away deer, geese and other birds.

"It was so beautiful out here and so quiet" before the planes began flying there, she said.

Part of the petition says:

"It is even difficult to achieve a sense of peace and quiet in our own homes with our windows up, as long as those planes fly in the area.

"The repetitious and very offensive noise makes it difficult to work outside or have outside-family gatherings."

Westminster AeroModelers Club member Raymond Miles said, "We're not disturbing rabbits or raccoons or any wildlife.

"We respect their right to register a complaint, if it's legitimate," he said of the neighbors, "but this is harassment."

Traffic on Route 97 generates more noise than the planes, he said.

The club's activities at the site are monitored by the county, and members are careful to fly their planes within boundary lines, Mr. Miles said.

The planes, which have an average wingspan of three feet, fly within a quarter-mile radius, he said.

Members also fly electric, sail and rubber-band planes, which don't make any noise, he said.

They usually fly planes from spring to fall and use the site 15 hours a week in the summer, Mr. Miles said. A maximum of four planes is allowed in the air at once, he said.

The club was established in 1955 and has about 65 members, he said.

Members also fly model planes in fields at Route 32 and Route 97, and on Route 32 near Londontown Corp. in South Carroll, he said.

Members have been looking for a permanent site to fly their model planes for 20 years, Mr. Miles said.

The current runway site for the model planes on Route 97 north of Westminster is only temporary until a cap is placed on John Owings Landfill in about two years, Mr. Soisson said.

Then the plan is to move the runway farther from Route 97 to the top of the landfill, he said.

The permit allows the planes to fly over only county-owned land, Mr. Soisson said.

Recreation and Parks Board member Robin Farinholt said Friday that she had not seen the petition but that it was likely the board would be willing to discuss the issue.

The board might form a committee to investigate the complaint, she said.

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