Model airplane flights grounded until spring

December 30, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Carroll County officials plan to let a permit for model airplane flights near the closed John Owings landfill expire tomorrow. But the planes may be back in the air by spring.

When 19 area residents petitioned against renewal of the permit two weeks ago, the county commissioners referred them to the recreation and parks board.

The board is scheduled to hear public comments at its Feb. 24 meeting and make a recommendation to the commissioners, who have the final decision.

Richard J. Soisson, assistant director of recreation and parks, said the staff saw no need to schedule a discussion of the permit earlier because most modelers fly their planes in spring, summer and fall.

The commissioners issued a permit in August to allow the Westminster Aero Modelers Club to fly radio-controlled planes over county land near the former landfill for the remainder of the year. The landfill is north of Westminster off Route 97, Littlestown Pike.

The activity brought protests from Littlestown Pike resident G. W. Schoen, who complained that the noise from the planes "sounds like 20 Weedeaters or hedge trimmers."

Mr. Schoen, who is serving as spokesman for neighbors opposed to the flights, said some model plane enthusiasts have violated club pledges to be off the site by dusk and to fly only over county-owned land.

"They stuck this model airpark back here without any consideration for the citizens," Mr. Schoen said. He said several residents had asked the commissioners to hold a public hearing before issuing the permit, but did not receive a reply from the county's governing board until the day after the permit was issued.

Raymond K. Miles Jr., a member of the modelers club who acts as liaison between the club and county government, said the modelers have abided by the rules. He said county personnel and state police who have monitored the flights have never found any violations.

Mr. Schoen said the county recreation staff has been "totally uncooperative" and that his complaints have been met with the explanation that county staff members could not go to the site at the time.

Mr. Soisson said of the county's monitoring program: "If we have complaints, we try to get up there to look at them."

He said earlier that the current runway site for the model planes is a temporary location. County officials plan to move the flights away from Littlestown Pike to the top of the former landfill after the landfill is capped, in about two years.

Mr. Miles said he expects the permit to be renewed "because of the backing we have received from the commissioners."

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