The Greensboro City Council agreed with the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority and not the Greensboro Planning Department at the work session on Thursday, March 4.

Not a single councilmember spoke in favor of the Planning Department’s convoluted position on the regulations governing the Airport Overlay Districts, the area more commonly called the noise cone.

The Planning Department was insisting that in Airport Overlay District 2 – which is further away from the airport and therefore is less subject to noise from airplanes flying overhead – that potential buyers be notified of the noise issues and that buildings be constructed to reduce noise inside by 30 decibels.

But in Airport Overlay District 1 – closer to the airport with more noise from the air traffic at the airport – the Planning Department recommended that there be no requirement that potential buyers be notified of the noise issues and no requirement that buildings be constructed to mitigate the noise.

Piedmont Triad Airport Authority general counsel Bill Cooke said that the Airport Authority believed those were good requirements for Airport Overlay District 2, but even more important for Airport Overlay District 1, closer to the airport where noise is likely to be more of an issue.

Steve Galanti, from the Greensboro Planning Department, explained that the reason the Planning Department was recommending that the notification and construction noise mitigation regulations should not apply in Airport Overlay District 1 is that if a building in that area suffered damage of over 50 percent, it would have to be built back to the new standards with noise mitigation, not the standards to which it had originally been built.

Tom Terrell, an attorney with Fox Rothschild representing the Airport Authority, said that a house with any age on it could not be built back to the same standards anyway because the regulations governing construction change over time.

He noted that if this hypothetical building in Airport Overlay District 1 was destroyed by fire, it would have to built back under the current building code, not the building code in place when it was originally constructed regardless of the Airport Overlay District.

After the presentations the City Council, rather than discuss the merits of the two plans, immediately began discussing how to implement the plan favored by the Airport Authority.

 In the midst of that discussion, Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “I think all people need notification and I think houses ought to be protected from sound and noise.”

Councilmembers Tammi Thurm, Michelle Kennedy and Nancy Hoffmann and Mayor Nancy Vaughan all said they agreed.  No one spoke in favor the Planning Department’s recommendation.

The public hearings that were held on the proposed changes to the Airport Overlay Districts were held on the Planning Department recommendation.  Now that the City Council has backed the more sensible changes proposed by the Airport Authority, the plan will have to go back to the Zoning Commission and then to the City Council either in May or June.