Airport noise abatement board on its way back
By Lou Ortiz
Proposals to create panels to deal with aircraft noise and neighborhood concerns like traffic near Miami International Airport will be the subjects of a July 10 hearing.
One proposal would create an Aircraft Noise Abatement Advisory Board for the airport that would report to the Miami-Dade County Commission.
An Aircraft Noise Abatement Task Force for the airport, initially created in 1998, dissolved through a sunset provision.
The other would empanel a Neighborhood Relations Committee that would relay area concerns to commissioners in District 6 and 12.
"Both of them are needed," Commissioner Rebeca Sosa said of the proposals. "They [ordinances] will bring to us the voice from the community; the needs of the community, making sure people have access to the government."
Ms. Sosa, who represents District 6, which includes the airport, is sponsoring both ordinances. Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz is a co-sponsor of the neighborhood panel proposal.
Mr. Diaz, who represents District 12, is chairman of Miami-Dade County's Airport and Tourism Committee, which will hold the hearing on the proposals.
"We need to be very in-touch with our citizens," Mr. Diaz said. "We need to deal with all the tough issues."
The noise advisory board would consist of at least 22 members, including representatives from the municipalities near the airport and as far as Brickell and Key Biscayne.
Other panelists would include representatives from the cities of Miami, Miami Springs, Doral, Miami Beach, West Miami, North Miami, Sweetwater and North Bay Village and the villages of Virginia Gardens, Miami Shores and El Portal.
Commissioners who represent Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 12 would each appoint one member.
The purpose of the panel "is to discuss, evaluate and recommend to the board of county commissioners measures to reduce or mitigate aircraft noise impacts to the areas surrounding Miami International Airport," according to the proposed ordinance.
The US Department of Transportation "Aviation Noise Abatement policy" provides for funds through the Federal Aviation Administration to be used for "the purchase of noise suppressant equipment, the construction of physical barriers and other noise reduction activities," according to the department's Web site.
The policy also says that air carriers are responsible to retire, replace or retrofit older jets that don't meet federal noise level standards.
"We welcome it," said Norman Hegedus, an aviation environmental planner in the county's Aviation Department, about the noise advisory board. "It's very good for the community. We want to know their concerns.
"It's a process," he said. "They can come up with ideas and we can do studies."
Mr. Hegedus, who works in the Aircraft Noise & Environmental Planning Division of the county's department, said surrounding communities should understand that "we cannot shift noise from one neighborhood to another.
He added that before flight patterns are changed, an environmental assessment must be conducted, and ultimate approval rests with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The advisory board would meet quarterly and provide an annual report to the county commission.
The proposed Neighborhood Relations Committee for the airport would consist of nine members, who would come from the cities of Miami, Miami Springs, Doral, Coral Gables, the Village of Virginia Gardens and two each from commission Districts 6 and 12.
With the aid of county staff the panel would "explore, consider and recommend programs and practices, such as airport landscaping, noise buffering, trash cleanup programs, signage and construction progress notices/updates that may be helpful in reducing or mitigating those adverse impacts," according to the proposed ordinance.
The panel would meet quarterly and provide an annual report to the commissioners of Districts 6 and 12.
The proposed ordinances will provide "an open forum," Ms. Sosa said, that is "going to empower the people."
If the committee approves the proposals, they must be adopted by the full 13-member county commission and signed by Mayor Carlos Alvarez to take effect.