Letter: Adopt Current Noise Contours

Letter: Adopt Current Noise Contours

To the editor:

An amendment to the Comprehensive Plan to allow for development in noisy areas (airport and eventually traffic) is being considered.

This began in earnest in July, 2020 when MWAA’s updated 2019 Noise

Contours were being considered by the Board of Supervisors (BOS).

Barbara Byron, staff, stated, “Who’s not to say that Elon Musk will

develop aircraft that use those batteries he’s developed, that we won’t

have noise at all,”* suggesting that her predictive analysis is superior

to the predictive analysis modeling tools the experts at MWAA have used

to develop their noise contours. Johnson Aviation, the consultant hired

by the county, stated that MWAA’s “noise analysis is well-documented and

consistent with FAA regulatory guidance.” But staff would prefer to use

a more short term prediction of 5–20 years as they do on other land

use issues, rather than the longer term 60-90 year modeling that MWAA

used. But isn’t it hypocritical to want to continue using the 30 year

contour maps for the next 20 years? And then what, adopt the 2019

contours after residences have already been built where they shouldn’t

have been?

With Dulles desiring to become more of a cargo hub by increasing their

heavy, cargo load craft (good luck to Elon on quieting those heavy

crafts - I can personally attest to how loud they are, especially at

night), the BOS decided that working with MWAA to determine

“preferential runways” when noise complaints occur, would be sufficient.

But if the BOS does not adopt the 2019 noise contours from MWAA, then

they will be allowing residential development in the flight paths, so

how can there possibly be any “preferential runways” to divert traffic


In a recent meeting, Keith Meurlin, a long time member and current

president of the Washington Airports Task Force, wondered why the BOS

would want to start creating the same problems in the Sully district

that the Mt. Vernon district already has? He also strongly warned that

although United Airlines uses Dulles as a hub, if the public outcry

creates limitations to their operations, then they will move to another


The Board has chosen to ignore the experts and forge its own path by

refusing to adopt the 2019 contours. Why? We can trace it back to the

fact that some landowners in Land Unit J, south of the airport, with

undeveloped or semi-obsolete offices wanted to find another viable use

so that their land could be developed. In order for those noisy sites to

be eligible for residential, the Comprehensive Plan (which currently

does not allow new residential above 60DNL) and the zoning ordinance

(which forbids new residential over 65DNL) both had to be overcome.

Over a lot of objections, including citizens, the airport, the FAA, and

even the Planning Commission, Sully district Supervisor, Kathy Smith,

nevertheless urged passing of an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan so that 60-65DNL became eligible for new residential; several applications

materialized almost instantly (Stanley Martin/Stonebrook, Toll

Mid-Adlantic, etc).

By keeping the outdated noise contours, the current amendment is

designed to weaken the Comprehensive Plan noise standard and apply it

countywide, not just Land Unit J, so that a wave of new residential

applications could be approved, including some almost at the doorstep of

the airport, and directly beneath the flight paths, on very noisy sites,

by pretending they were still 60-65DNL. Although most of the affected

land, at least for now, is in the vicinity of Land Unit J, it could also

facilitate some similar site specific plan amendments to allow

redevelopment of other noisy sites (near major traffic arteries for

example) for new residential.

Tell the BOS, Staff, and the Planning Commission that the noise

amendment to the Comprehensive Plan is flawed and the 2019 MWAA Noise Contours should be adopted:

* DPDAirportNoisePA@fairfaxcounty.gov – Staff

* clerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov – BOS

* Plancom@fairfaxcounty.gov – Planning Commission

Important dates in 2022:

*   PC Committee meetings February 10 and March10 at 7:30 PM (public

comment not allowed but letters received prior should be considered) -

streamed on Channel 16 for public viewing.

* Planning Commission (PC) Public Hearing: 5/18/2022

* BOS committee meeting March 15

* PC May 15

*BOS June 28


Cynthia Shang