04/22/05 — Bill would alter noise zone rules

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Bill would alter noise zone rules

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on April 22, 2005 1:48 PM

Cities and counties might soon be able to create noise zones under a bill sponsored by Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, that was unanimously approved Tuesday by the North Carolina Senate.

The bill will now go to the state House of Representatives for approval, but a certified copy of the approved Senate bill is on its way to the Pentagon.

Kerr said sending a copy of the bill to Washington is another way to demonstrate North Carolina's support for its military bases.

"We want them to know now," he said.

State officials have been urging legislation that would protect the mission of military bases in the state. The federal government is planning to shut down some bases around the U.S. to save money.

The preliminary list of bases being considered for closure should be announced by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission next month.

Kerr introduced Senate Bill 835 in mid-March after a request from the Seymour Support Council, which is working on behalf of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as the next round of federal base-closings approaches. The initial two-paragraph bill grew to a more detailed two-page bill, to include additional noise concerns from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville.

"Fayetteville expanded it a lot because they have tremendous acreage at Fort Bragg and there are other military activities, not just planes, that cause noise," Kerr said.

Senate Bill 835 would authorize local governments to create noise zones near airfields and installations that are used mainly for military purposes.

The proposal also requires property sellers to disclose to potential buyers that a home or other structure is located in a military noise zone, and directs the state Building Code Council to amend the state building code if there is a need for additional noise abatement requirements in military noise zones.

"I think North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the country," Kerr said. "We need to keep our military communities healthy and give our honorable men and women in uniform the respect and thanks they deserve."

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance last month restricting population density and establishing a noise zone around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The county ordinance will affect about 26 square miles of land. New homes won't be allowed in areas with noise levels that average more than 75 decibels, although other construction will be permitted.

Kerr also is a sponsor of the 2005 Military Support Act, a comprehensive military support proposal that would:

*Allow half the taxes collected on motor fuels sold on military bases to be used to provide services for military families and protect bases from encroachment.

*Streamline state occupational licensing procedures to take into account the special needs of military families. The unemployment rate of military spouses is three times greater than the average spouse unemployment rate, and professional licensing requirements might limit career advancement or deter re-entry into the workforce for military families who relocate.

*Allow service members who must move due to deployment more flexibility in breaking rental agreements; and

*Make community college training programs, high school course credit and educational services more readily available to military families.