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Noise Referendum - Nov. 8, 2016

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On election day, Nov. 8, 2016 City of College Park residents living in Fulton and Clayton Counties will consider, among other ballot initiatives, the Noise Referendum listed on this page.  The information assembled here is provided so that voters can have a clear understanding of this referendum.  More information provided below: 


Ambrose Clay provides background education on the November 8th noise referendum for College Park citizens residing in Clayton and Fulton Counties.

Councilman Clay appeared on WABE, the National Public Radio affiliate in Atlanta to discuss the noise referendum; click the WABE link below to hear the segment.


This is the language that will appear on ballots in Fulton and Clayton Counties.

Noise Ballot.png 

The file listed below shows an example of how noise levels increase and decrease with each flyover.  Collected Monday, Oct. 24 at 3:21pm.  Listen to flyovers at :15 seconds, as well as 1:15 and 2:05.


Here's a graphic example of westward departures from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (click image for larger view) 

      Operating3departuresbtm_thumb.jpg  Operating3departurestop.jpg        

The two graphics below illustrate the level of activity on June 25th and June 4th, 2015. (click image for larger view)

     west FLowbottom pic.jpg   East Flowtop.jpg


Questions and Answers

What recent changes have occurred that changed and intensified the airport noise annoyance?
Change in airplane guidance technology, called NextGen. Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a new National Airspace System due for implementation across the United States in stages between 2012 and 2025. NextGen proposes to transform America’s air traffic control system from a radar-based system with radio communication to a satellite-based one. 

As a result of these changes, planes will be able to fly closer together, take more direct routes along narrower flight paths, and avoid delays caused by airport “stacking” as planes wait for an open runway.

Some have described changing to NextGen as creating “highways in the sky”. A feature of the NextGen program is GPS-based navigation, which results in very narrow flightpaths for the thousands of planes that depart from and arrive at ATL airport. The result of this change is that many localities, including College Park, are experiencing increases in air traffic.

2.  What is DNL and how did it come to be the current noise measurement metric?

The day-night average sound level (Ldn or DNL) is the average noise level over a 24-hour period. The noise between the hours of 10pm and 7am is counted as 10 dB louder. This is done to take into account that airport communities are 10dB quieter at night.

The Federal Aviation Administration has established this measure as a community noise exposure metric to aid airport noise analysis. The FAA says that a maximum day-night average sound level of 65 dB is incompatible with residential communities. Communities in affected areas may be eligible for mitigation such as soundproofing.

The Federal Aviation Administration last reviewed the technical basis for its noise policies in 1992.  The “day-night average sound level” (Ldn orDNL), which is used by the FAA for establishing the “threshold of significant impact” that makes an area unsuitable for residential use, has been used without substantial change since 1978.  

Much has changed since 1978 and 1992.  Changes, many brought about by the introduction of NextGen technology, now warrant the development of a new noise exposure measurement metric.

3.  What’s wrong with the current exposure metric?

The current DNL noise exposure metric was created before the current NextGen flight path improvements were implemented. The DNL metric does not recognize, or give adequate weight to, the impact of the narrowing of flight paths, or the much closer spacing allowed between aircraft as they follow their flight paths out of, or in to landing, at the ATL airport.

4.  Why is this referendum ‘Advisory’?  

The advisory referendum, wherein voters make their views known on important issues without thereby binding legislation to action, has been used by a considerable number of state and local governments in this country. Advisory Referendum can raise awareness of a number of problems for which ready solutions are not immediately available; the goal is to increase public participation in important issues and to improve communication between legislators and the electorate.  Think of it as a petition - a formal request that appeals to authority to bring about change.

5. Will this be applicable to my property?  

The Advisory Referendum will direct College Park’s elected officials, and city staff, to work with our Congressional delegation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to change current policy. The desired goal of the proposed policy change would provide noise mitigation to homes in areas that are noise impacted by the NextGen changes. The exact locations for noise mitigation would be determined based on the proposed new noise metric and the resulting evaluation of impacted properties.

What will this cost me?

Since this is an ‘Advisory Referendum’, there will be no cost to the voter.

 If I vote ‘YES’, how long will it take for the FAA to develop a better way of measuring airport area noise?

Change in federal policy can take some time, maybe even years. Your vote is your voice. Your vote will direct College Park’s elected officials, and city staff, to work with our Congressional delegation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to make the change to the noise measurement metric, and to work to set aside and allow additional funding for improved noise mitigation and insulation, even if it has already been installed.

  What are the new noise standards?

The new standards have not yet been determined. College Park’s goal is for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a noise evaluation formula that accurately takes into account the impacts of the narrowing of flight paths, and planes flying closer together. The current noise standard was developed prior to the implementation of new more advanced computer and satellite based aircraft path controls, called NextGen. Now that these new aircraft flight path controls are in place, voters have the ability to ask that a new method of evaluating aircraft noise should be developed.

9. What radius and/or areas, impacted by takeoff/landing noise, will the new noise mitigation program cover?

Those determinations have not yet been finalized by the FAA. If this referendum passes, then the City of College Park’s Mayor and Council, and city staff, will work with our congressional delegation, and the FAA, to determine first what the new noise measurement tool will be, and then which areas of College Park will be eligible for noise insulation.

10.   Where does money come from to perform noise abatement processes for homes that qualify?

Both federal and airport noise mitigation funding has been appropriated in past instances to fulfill and execute abatement programs. The current plan will be for College Park’s leadership and staff to work with the staff of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport so that funding can be provided for noise abatement.

 Can I qualify if I’ve participated in prior noise abatement?

It is possible that previous noise abatement installation procedures have become outdated over time, including the possibility of degradation over time.  This, coupled with the possibility of different takeoff patterns in the NextGen program, may qualify homeowners the opportunity to participate in updated programs. In addition to having to develop a new noise measurement formula, the FAA must also develop new national guidelines for which homes will be eligible for either new or additional noise insulation.

Do you have a comment or concern regarding airport noise? Please click here to complete Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's noise related comments and concerns form.

For questions about FAA noise abatement studies and sound insulation programs, please contact https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arp/regional_offices/ 

For a broader view of the history and execution of noise abatement programs, view here:  http://www.faa.gov/airports/environmental/airport_noise/

To report aircraft noise from the ATL airport, use the following site: http://www.atl.com/community/residential-impact/, select ‘here’, and then complete the Noise-Related Comments and Concerns Form at http://www.atl.com/community/aircraft-noise-related-comments-concerns/

College Park City Hall
3667 Main St.
College Park, GA 30337
Phone: (404) 767-1537