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Memo to County Seeking Airspace Consultant Funding Sent by Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmember Roger Berliner

posted Apr 5, 2018, 4:43 PM by MoCo Quiet Skies   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 4:52 PM ]
On April 5, 2018, Council President Hans Riemer and Councilmember Roger Berliner sent the following Memo to their colleagues on the Council’s Government Operations & Fiscal Policy requesting that they recommend putting Airspace Consultant funding in the County’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations. 

TO: Members of the Government Operations & Fiscal Policy Committee
Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Chair
Councilmember Sidney Katz

FROM: Council President Hans Riemer
Councilmember Roger Berliner

SUBJECT: Hiring an airspace consultant to protect our residents

Colleagues, as many as 20,000 Montgomery County residents continue to be subjected to loud and consistent noise from airplanes approaching and departing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport – the result of 2015 flight path changes put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) without notifying county or state officials and without the required environmental analyses.

This noise plagues the daily lives of our residents, including late at night and early in the morning. There is now evidence it is hurting property values. There is growing concern about the presence of ultrafine particle pollution from large jets. What is indisputable is that the roughly 400 planes flying over our neighborhoods each day are harming our residents and hurting our County’s quality of life. Flight paths before these 2015 changes used to be more spread out and more focused over the Potomac River and Virginia. Now, the flight paths are concentrated into a narrower corridor directly over county neighborhoods to maximize efficiency and allow more planes to arrive and depart in rapid succession.

The new flight paths, combined with new operating procedures that have arriving flights descend sooner and fly lower for longer stretches, have led to a surge in noise complaints from residents in Montgomery County and our County’s formal participation on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Noise Working Group. Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office is considering a lawsuit against the FAA on behalf of the state of Maryland. The Noise Working Group has been an ineffective forum for getting the FAA to reconsider these flight paths and flight procedures. We do not know the outcome of any potential lawsuit against the FAA, and even a positive outcome would not address all of the separate flight path changes that have created this problem.

It is time that Montgomery County do more to protect its residents. We request that the Government Operations & Fiscal Policy Committee recommend adding $150,000 to the FY19 Operating Budget of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations for airspace consultant work. Airspace consultants have been hired by other communities facing similar issues in order to develop new flight path proposals for the FAA. This subject matter expert would be better equipped to engage with FAA officials about the complexities of alternative flight path and flight procedure development. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to answering any questions about the need for this funding and the nature of this work.

A copy of this April 5, 2018 Memo is available HERE, and is also available under the "Elected Officials Letters" folder on the Downloads and Templates tab.

MCQSC urges you and your neighbors to please continue advocating for an Airspace Consultant.  You can quickly send an email advocating for an Airspace Consultant by using our email template that we provided HERE!