02/14/05 — Hearing Tuesday at 6 p.m. on development around base

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Hearing Tuesday at 6 p.m. on development around base

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 14, 2005 2:02 PM

Property owners around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base can voice their opinions Tuesday evening on proposed changes in how they can develop their land.

A public hearing on the issue will be held at 6 p.m. in Courtroom No. 1 at the Wayne County Courthouse.

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners proposed the new development rules based on a report that says too much development is being permitted close to the base. The report was the result of a study commissioned by the Seymour Support Council, a group sponsored by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

The commissioners have been reviewing and adjusting the proposed changes for more than a year. Meanwhile, the county has prohibited new subdivisions and mobile home parks in areas where noise from the base is loudest. A moratorium was enacted in December 2003 and remains in effect.

County officials and chamber leaders say they are concerned that people may buy homes in areas near the base without being aware of the noise that emanates from it. They also say that they are worried that complaints about noise could threaten the Air Force's ability to train, which could threaten the long-term viability of the base.

The county's proposed rules would affect about 26 square miles of land around the base. If the rules are adopted, new homes would no longer be allowed in areas with noise levels averaging more than 75 decibels, although other construction would be permitted.

Land near the base that is not now zoned would typically be zoned R-20, which allows one home per half-acre. Some areas now zoned R-20 would be changed to R-30, which requires almost three-quarters of an acre per home.

Builders in areas with an average noise level above 65 decibels would be required to design structures to limit noise from filtering inside. Typically, they would need to use materials such as solid-core doors and eliminate fireplaces.

In areas with average noise levels of less than 65 decibels, builders would not need to use any special materials. But home buyers would receive a notice that their property is located in a high-noise area.

The county planning department has written a noise-reduction design guide to help builders meet the proposed requirements.

The guide has been forwarded to the county commissioners for their approval.

The county's rules would not affect property inside the city of Goldsboro or within its planning jurisdiction.