The city of Manassas, Virginia, has approved an AOPA-backed zoning amendment designed to help prevent conflicts between airport users and homeowners. The amendment puts in place noise mitigation requirements for a housing development being planned near Manassas Regional Airport.
“While we’d prefer not to see houses built so close to the airport, the zoning amendment will ensure that homebuyers are aware of the airport’s presence and that steps are taken to reduce noise in their homes,” said Adam Williams, AOPA manager of airport policy. “And that’s important for the long-term viability of Manassas Regional.”
Under the zoning amendment, acoustical treatments must be built into homes to ensure that noise levels in living spaces do not exceed an average of 45 decibels, and buyers must receive a disclosure statement indicating that the airport is located within one-half mile of the property and that the property could be subject to increasing noise levels from overflights and airport operations.
Winning support for the amendment was a community effort. AOPA member Charles Schefer brought the issue to AOPA’s attention and mobilized pilots and airport neighbors to contact city leaders and take part in planning meetings.
“I think it’s critically important to recognize that airports are far more than just a place for aircraft to take off and land; they are economic engines that drive the surrounding region and communities they serve,” Schefer said, explaining why he believes it’s important to mobilize pilots, businesses, and neighbors on airport issues. He noted that, according to a 2010 Virginia Department of Aviation study, Manassas Airport generates employment for more than 1,000 people and more than $234 million in annual economic activity.
But, he warned, “It’s equally important to recognize that not all types of land use are compatible.”
Schefer began his campaign for the zoning restrictions by working with the local airport director, who also was concerned about the impact of a planned housing development on the airport. Schefer also contacted airport tenants and urged them to get in touch with the mayor and city council about the importance of protecting the airport. And he got in touch with AOPA, which also contacted the city council and planning commission.
“It’s very important to get involved in these sorts of issues,” Schefer said. “It often takes only one voice to make a difference, and often one voice becomes a catalyst that snowballs into many.”