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Southlake Looks To Reduce Aircraft Noise

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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SOUTHLAKE (CBSDFW.COM) - Southlake has joined a Washington, D.C. advocacy group for help dealing with noise issues from planes taking off at DFW International Airport. The decision comes after runway maintenance and weather patterns sent more flights over the city this fall.

The city set aside money in its 2014 budget to join the National Organization to Insure a Sound Controlled Environment (NOISE). The group says on its website that it brings together communities, airport officials and federal policy makers to resolve noise concerns.

Complaints over the aircraft noise surfaced in 2012, and then again in October of this year, when maintenance forced more traffic onto the airport’s west diagonal runway. The occasional roar became more routine though, when weather patterns forced planes to take off over the city, rather than just land.

Because Southlake has designed its city to have commercial and industrial zones in the noise contour from the airport, the pattern has not typically presented a problem. However, the runway does not have the satellite navigational aids of the main runways at the airport. Planes can begin to drift in a strong north wind, pushing them ever so slightly over more populated areas, prompting complaints.

It was a continual pattern in October, according to city councilwoman Pamela Muiller, who has been involved with noise issue for 25 years. “It was not the airport doing anything to cause more noise over Southlake,” she said. “But it was the weather. The wind kind of pushed the aircraft slightly over, and these neighborhoods in the southeast corner end up getting more impacted.”

The airport constantly monitors noise with an array of microphones set up to assist cities with development planning. Pilots and the FAA are responsible for where aircraft go once they leave the ground, said Sandra Lancaster in the noise compatibility office.

The airport did work with communities eight years ago though, to add the navigational aids on the main runways. Lancaster said that operations on the runway over Southlake just are not frequent enough for the same system to be practical there.

The office notifies the community whenever conditions exist that could create more noise. It also intentionally schedules maintenance in the summer months when weather patterns are less likely to put planes over affected areas. She said that data shows flight patterns are basically the same over the area dating back over the last 10 years, and that it is unlikely the concerns of the past two seasons will become repetitive.

Neither side saw Southlake’s entry into NOISE as being an adversarial move. “We just want to make sure we’re heard, and we get our fair day in court,” said councilman Martin Schelling. “We’re not looking for a fight, we’re looking for a solultion.”

NOISE did not respond to requests for more information Tuesday. The group’s website does not show any other Texas cities as current or past members.

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