(by Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer - February 21, 2009)
A proposal for rezoning land around the four airports in Franklin County will be forthcoming, and the Westland Area Commission got a heads-up look at how the proposal would affect Bolton Field.
Chris Gawronski of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Daniel Griffin of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority visited with WAC at its Feb. 18 meeting to outline the plan that is designed to protect areas near the airport from the effects of airport noise and prevent noise-sensitive development from taking place in that area.
Existing zoning, in place for the past 15 years, covers a limited area and shifts every few years based on changes in such things as airport operations and weather conditions. This makes it hard for residents, developers and the city administration to keep up with the boundaries.
But the proposed boundaries will be fixed, or rigid, and make them more readily identifiable, Gawronski explained.
Current boundaries are the same as federally recognized noise contours based on average noise levels that are adjusted every few years, the MORPC representative said.
The proposal creates three areas. Boundary A is the area of highest airport noise.
Residences, schools and other noise-sensitive development are prohibited in this area.
This area covers the area immediately surrounding the runways and encompasses an area that extends out to 60 to 65 decibels in noise level.
Boundary B follows the Bolton Field Airport property lines and is an area of noticeable airport noise. Noise-sensitive development will be discouraged in this area while existing buildings, when and if remodeled, may have to be sound-proofed.
Boundary C extends out to nearby roads and has occasional airport noise. This area has been described as a “buyer beware” area where all types of development are permitted, but airports will review proposals for development in an effort to avoid hazards to air traffic.
The proposal for this rezoning plan will be presented to Columbus, which will then send it out to area commissions that have airports in their jurisdiction for their comments. The proposal will then be returned to the city for its action.
When the proposal is introduced, property owners in the affected areas will be notified, he assured WAC members.
WAC member Doug Moshier wanted to know if the proposed changes would affect operations at Bolton Field, and Gawronski assured him they would not.
When members began raising questions about expected opposition, Gawronski said that the “realtors association is never happy about notification” and that the builders association is “cool at best.”