03/13/05 — High-noise areas discussed by council

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High-noise areas discussed by council

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 13, 2005 2:11 AM

PINE KNOLL SHORES -- Goldsboro officials are now likely to allow mobile homes to be replaced and houses to be rebuilt or expanded in high-noise areas around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

But the City Council is preparing to take a harder line with many businesses under the flight path.

The council informally agreed last week not to allow new businesses, or existing business to expand or rebuild, in the accident potential zones (APZ) at each end of the base's runway. The intent is to keep large groups of people from gathering in the area where a jet is more likely to crash.

While this would affect many properties along U.S. 70, the council kept coming back to Wilber's Barbecue as an example.

"Are you saying that if Wilber's was to burn down, we wouldn't let him build back?," the Rev. Charles Williams said. "That's been there as long as I can remember."

"But if you're looking around the base, that's the biggest issue we have," Chuck Allen said.

The restaurant has hundreds of customers during a typical lunch, Allen noted. The city would never allow a new business to put so many people at risk.

"If we don't protect this APZ, we're not doing our job," Allen said.

Some council members said they might be inclined to allow business expansions that would not increase the number of customers. For example, if Wilber Shirley wanted to increase the size of his kitchen, that might be permitted.

As part of the Unified Development Ordinance, which updates all the city's laws on construction and development, the council is trying to limit construction in high-noise areas around the base.

The draft UDO has prohibited new or replacement mobile homes in areas with average noise levels over 65 decibels; several people came in protest to a public hearing last month.

At its retreat last week, the council decided, again informally, to allow mobile homes to be replaced in the high-noise areas. The city is likely to require brick underpinning for homes on individual lots, while a sturdy underpinning will be mandated in parks.

The goal is to reduce noise getting under and then into those homes.

The council also supports allowing homeowners in the high-noise areas to replace damaged houses or expand houses up to 50 percent. They will be required to use building materials and techniques designed to cut noise filtration.

In contrast, churches would be allowed to rebuild or expand in the high-noise areas without having to meet the construction standards. They would not be allowed to open schools or day-cares, however.

The council's changes to the ordinance now go to the Goldsboro Planning Commission, which has scheduled a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the UDO.