The City of Greensboro and the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority are at odds over the proposed new Airport Overlay Districts, what is commonly called the noise cone.

Both agree that reducing the size of the noise cone to comply with a study that was done in 2007 to open up 1,464 acres to more residential development is a good idea. As is usually the case, the devil is in the details.

The Airport Authority wants the regulations requiring notification and construction for noise abatement that exist in District 2, the area further away from the airport, to also be imposed on property in District 1 closer to the airport.

The city planning department’s position is that the notification and noise abatement requirements should be imposed on District 2 but not on District 1.

Greensboro Planning Director Sue Schwartz said, “This really comes down to a policy decision.”

Schwartz said that the concern of the planning department was that the notification and noise abatement requirements don’t currently exist for District 1, so it would be “adding restrictions to people who don’t have those restrictions now.”

Schwartz noted that the regulations would not apply to existing buildings, which means property owners in District 1 would not have to retrofit their buildings to meet the noise abatement standard.

Schwartz said, “It would create a significant number of structures that are nonconforming.”

The proper term is “nonconforming” but most people call it “grandfathered,” meaning that the building doesn’t meet the current regulations but doesn’t have to be altered to meet those regulations unless it suffers damage of more than 50 percent. In that case, when it is rebuilt the structure would have to be rebuilt to the new standards.

Schwartz said that the city did not want to create a lot of nonconforming uses in that area and that the city generally tried not to create nonconforming uses.

According to Schwartz, the planning department and the airport authority worked out agreements on most of the issues but couldn’t agree on this one.

She said, “No one is saying, ‘Oh my God, we have to have it the staff’s way.’”

Schwartz said because it is a policy decision it was appropriate for the City Council to hear both sides and make the decision.