Model Planes' Compromise Won't Fly CARROLL COUNTY

February 24, 1993

Carroll County's Recreation and Parks Board may have thought it made a Solomon-like decision when it renewed the permit for hobbyists to use the former John Owings landfill to fly their radio-controlled model planes, but it didn't. Instead of resolving the problem, the board has created a solution that will only exacerbate the hostile relations between the hobbyists and nearby residents.

When confronted by two women with competing claims for a child, King Solomon said he would cut the baby in half. Rather than have her child die, the real mother relinquished her claim. By extending the model flyers' permit with the condition that the planes can't fly one Sunday each month, the board, in effect, has cut the baby in half.

Annoyed by the noise of the planes -- which they compare to that generated by gasoline-powered Weed Whackers -- residents would like all flying to stop. Model airplaners, on the other hand, feel they have a legitimate right to use the county's open space to pursue their hobby. There is no way to reconcile these diametrically opposite views.

Most of the hobbyists use their planes in the evenings and on weekends, the very times when the residents want to be outside gardening, playing or barbecuing.

Model airplaners claim the noise from their toys isn't that bad. However, just as the roar from a lawn mower might not bother the person doing the mowing but could disturb the rest of the neighborhood, the level of noise generated from these planes can be bothersome to everybody but the person controlling it. And unlike lawn mowers, which usually run for short periods of time, these planes run continuously during the hours permitted.

Instead of extending the permit, the board should have first examined the question of whether more appropriate sites are available for the model airplaners. The board would have been better off locating a field close to an industrial or commercial zone. The prime flying time for the hobbyists would coincide with periods when no one is working and likely to be bothered by the noise.

If such a field does not exist in Carroll County, then the board would have to reconsider the John Owings site. Maybe the conflict will ultimately require dividing the baby in half, but there's no reason to rush to reach that solution.

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