Former members and chairs of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority (RDUAA) Board wrote to the Morrisville Town Council Tuesday to oppose an amendment to the town’s draft Land Use Plan. The change would authorize multi-family residential development within the Airport Overly District (AOD), an area where such development has been banned for decades due to concerns about aircraft noise.
“The existing AOD has brought nearly 30 years of collaboration between RDUAA and the Town of Morrisville, and we are disappointed to witness the changing dynamic,” the emeritus members wrote. “The proposed amendment to the Town’s land-use plan would only backtrack the productive, shared efforts by RDUAA and the Town of Morrisville to benefit the greater community.”
The former airport leaders, who spent years listening to community members, fielding noise complaints and settling litigation, understand the need to continue balancing airport growth, economic development and quality of life. Calling the proposed land use change “unfair, unjust and risky,” they urged the Town Council to reject changes to the AOD that would threaten the years of successful noise compatibility efforts. The Emeritus Board Members’ letter can be found here.
Patrick Hannah, who currently serves as Acting Chair of the RDUAA Board, also expressed his concern about lifting the prohibition on residential development directly below the arrival and departure path to RDU’s main runways. “Lifting that prohibition would undermine the deliberate land use planning that has protected area residents from exposure to constant noise disturbances and allowed the Airport to support the region’s growth,” wrote Hannah in a letter to the Town Council.
The Acting Chair reminded council members that the Authority has raised repeated objections to allowing residential development, including proposed affordable and workforce housing, within the AOD. Authority staff have educated the Town about the backlash in public sentiment that would ensue and the potential legal and financial exposure the amendment would create. Hannah also urged the council not to rely on outdated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data about the impact of noise on communities near airports.
A newly-released FAA study shows that up to 54 percent of future residents living in multi-family residential developments, including workforce and affordable housing authorized under the town’s Draft Land Use Plan, will experience significant adverse effects due to exposure to aircraft noise. Hannah asked the town to postpone its decision until the FAA releases new policy direction related to airport noise. You can read Acting Chair Hannah’s letter here.