01/27/04 — County mulls stricter building code for base noise zones

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County mulls stricter building code for base noise zones

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on January 27, 2004 2:01 PM

By this summer, new subdivisions will once again be allowed under Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's flight lines. The houses will look the same as the ones built before the moratorium.

But when you step inside, you'll be able to hear a difference. Or not hear, actually.

Within the next two months, the Wayne County commissioners are expected to decide under what conditions they will allow homes and other construction in high-noise areas around the base.

One likely change is that sound-dampening materials will be required in all new home construction. This would include all houses, not just those built in subdivisions.

The Wayne County Planning Board is reviewing standards that would reduce noise levels filtering into the house by 25 to 35 decibels. These will include the use of thicker glass in windows, solid-core doors and walls designed to muffle vibrations.

The Planning Board will not make a recommendation to the county board until it gets some estimates of how the costlier materials would affect the final cost of a house, said Steve Keen, chairman of the committee studying the issue.

"That's something the commissioners will want to know," Keen said.

The proposed standards would not allow glass or plastic skylights, through-the-door mailboxes, or fireplaces with chimneys in the nosiest areas. Sound-absorbing ceilings or carpeted floors would be required in all bedrooms.

All brick veneer, masonry blocks or stucco exterior walls would need to be built airtight. Any penetration of those walls -- pipes, ducts, conduits, etc. -- would have to be caulked or filled with mortar.

In some areas, concrete block walls would need to be plastered or painted on one side with "bridging" paint.

Exterior doors would need to be solid-core wood or insulated hollow metal core doors, tightly fit and with weather stripping.

The committee expects to get cost estimates next week. That meeting could lead to a report to the Planning Board's Feb. 10 meeting.

The county commissioners expect the planners' recommendations by March so they can begin their own discussion of the issue.

The moratorium on new subdivisions and mobile home parks inside the base's 65-decibel zone is scheduled to end June 2, but the commissioners would like to end it sooner.

The Planning Board's committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday in the commissioners' conference room, third floor of the Wayne County Courthouse Annex.