Amendments to the airport noise cone map and regulations – which the City Council continued at the Tuesday, Feb. 16 meeting – have become controversial, but it is difficult to understand why.

The Zoning Commission unanimously approved the map and text amendments proposed by the city Planning Department, but it was not clear at the zoning meeting of Jan. 20 exactly what the commission was approving.

The issue pits the Greensboro Planning Department against the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, and the whole matter is critical enough that the Airport Authority hired an outside attorney.

Before the Zoning Commission, Tom Terrell of Fox Rothschild represented the Airport Authority, along with the Airport Authority’s attorney Bill Cooke.

The essence of the issue is that the Airport Authority is asking that the same regulations on notification and construction in Airport Overlay District 2, which is further away from the airport, apply in Airport Overlay District 1 closer to the airport.

District 2 requires that potential buyers be made aware of the increased noise levels caused by the airport and that construction be built to mitigate the noise.  In District 2, multi-family residential zoning is allowed.

In District 1, closer to the airport, residential zoning is limited to single-family on lots of at least 40,000 square feet.  But under the city’s proposed amendments, buyers would not have to be notified of the noise issues and houses would not have to be constructed to mitigate the noise.

Cooke explained to the Zoning Commission that the concern of the Airport Authority was that real estate is most often shown to potential buyers during the day, whereas the noise issues from the airport – in part because of the FedEx flights – is more pronounced at night, and the FedEx flights are expected to increase substantially.  For that reason the Airport Authority was requesting that the same notification and construction regulations for Overly District 2 also apply in Overlay District 1.

However, at the Zoning Commission meeting the requested changes were not made, so the item on the City Council agenda was the original request from the Planning Department that would allow property to be sold in Overlay District 1 without the required notification of the airport noise and without construction mitigation.

The City Council plans to hold a work session in order to hear why the Planning Department doesn’t want the notification and construction regulations in Overylay District 1, as well as why the Airport Authority does.