Thu April 4, 2013
Airport Board OKs $35 Million Fund To Buy Neighborhood
The Charlotte airport plans to buy out a neighborhood less than a mile south of its newest runway. There are almost 70 homes there, and the airport advisory committee agreed Thursday to budget $35 million to buy those properties.
Karl Windsor says it sounds like he lives at the airport.
His house is about a half-mile from the runway that opened in 2010. And as a faint rumble grew louder, he said, "That's a small plane, too."
The plane – and noise – burst over his neighborhood.
"It's like that about every minute, average," he said. "They get about 700 a day coming over the house like that."
He said it starts before sunrise and goes until well after dark. Windsor has lived here about five years. He said he's excited about the prospect of selling his home to the airport, but his neighbors are mixed on the idea.
"The guy next door, he's ready to go," Windsor said. "The ones across the street don't want to go. It's hit or miss."
The airport advisory committee approved a plan to set aside $35 million to buy the neighborhood. The decision still needs approval from the city council. The FAA could reimburse 75 percent of the cost.
The plan is to use the property for cargo and warehouses. It's in a good spot for that because it's right by a big rail yard Norfolk Southern is building.
Aviation Director Jerry Orr said the buyouts may also resolve lawsuits. Eight people in that neighborhood of almost 70 homes have sued the airport over noise.
"It would appear to me that offering them the ability to sell their home and move solves their problem," Orr said.
How much the airport ends up spending depends on the appraised value of the properties and if the homeowners take the deals.
Orr said two appraisers would determine the value of each home by comparing it to similar ones that don’t have planes roaring overhead – they won't be marked down because they're near the airport.
"If the homeowner doesn't consider that enough money for their home, they're under no obligation to accept that," he said.
But Orr is confident almost everyone would take it because that's how this usually goes. In 1989, Orr said the airport made voluntary offers to a few hundred homeowners near other runways.
"We hired one of these opinion firms to go out and talk to people and tell us what those people thought," he said. "What we learned from that is what they said they wanted to do and what they ultimately did were pretty far apart."
More than 90 percent said they wouldn’t leave. But now only one homeowner still lives there.