08/18/04 — Moratorium on zoning around base extended

View Archive

Moratorium on zoning around base extended

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on August 18, 2004 2:10 PM

The Wayne County commissioners agreed Tuesday to extend until January the moratorium on new subdivisions and mobile home parks near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, officials plan to seek outside advice on how to dampen outside sound from entering homes and businesses. The county may not need to be as restrictive as some have suggested in its proposal to protect residents from jet noise, County Manager Lee Smith said. "We may have been making this unnecessarily complicated."

Since December, the county has barred new neighborhoods within a 26-square-mile area around the Air Force base. Officials have been working on new zoning and land-use rules that would limit development in areas with high noise or potential for jet accidents.

Most of the discussion lately has been about how quiet it should be inside new homes or businesses. The commissioners have considered different ways of requiring builders to use materials to muffle aircraft noise, which can be 130 decibels or louder.

But officials may have strayed by being so concerned about decibels, Smith said. A better approach might be to encourage developers to build as soundly as possible -- for example, using solid-core doors, he added.

Many standard building techniques would accomplish much of the noise reduction, he said.

The challenge would be to require these design standards without altering the state's minimum building code, he added.

The commissioners plan to hire a consultant, such as an acoustical engineer, to advise county boards. This will be done in the next few months, although a timetable was not discussed Tuesday.