Flying Friendlier Skies

August 13, 1993

Carroll's commissioners should be commended for finally relocating the site where the county's model airplane enthusiasts practice their hobby from the John Owings Landfill to a more appropriate setting in Union Mills.

The commissioners corrected a poorly reasoned decision by the county Recreation and Parks Board last winter when it renewed the Westminster Aeromodelers Club's permit to fly at the old landfill site. Aware that people living nearby had been annoyed by the shrill noise of the radio-controlled planes when the club had a temporary permit there, the board tried to mollify the residents. It granted the club a permit with one condition: The aeromodelers could not fly their planes one Sunday each month.

At the time, we pointed out that setting aside one Sunday would not resolve the dispute between the aeromodelers and residents and recommended that the county find a better location. Because most of the model airplane hobbyists fly in the evenings or on weekends, we suggested looking for a site close to an industrial or commercial area, which would be devoid of people at the times the hobbyists would be flying their planes.

Last spring, Commissioner Donald I. Dell proposed examining a county-owned parcel near Union Mills as an alternative, the former Spiegel Farm near Kowonu Trail and Rinehart Road.

The new location is more remote than the landfill, and the whine of the airplanes should not disturb people as easily as at the current location. Near the new model airplane field sit a dozen homes within a 3,000-foot radius, compared to 52 homes within the same area around the landfill.

At present, the Union Mills land is used by a farmer who spreads chicken manure there. Under the proposed arrangement, the aeromodelers have promised not to disturb him while he works.

To be sure, the solution is not perfect.

For one thing, the model airplaners won't be able to use the new location immediately, but will have to wait until next spring.

And, as long as these planes generate their high-pitched buzz, which some compare to an airborne Weed-Whacker, they will bother somebody. At least by moving to Union Mills, the fliers will disturb a lot fewer people than they would if they continued at the John Owings landfill.

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