Buried on Page 2B

I’m addicted to newspapers. It’s true. Gotta have my fix everyday or I start getting jittery. This might be considered odd behavior for a tech-obsessed guy who also reads way too many blogs most days, but that’s how it goes.

So I found this gem in today’s Tennessean titled, “Noise complaints lead to return to former flight pattern“. If you don’t live in East Nashville or know someone who does, you may have no idea what this means.

Back in June, the FAA decided that planes departing BNA needed to fly farther from the taller buildings downtown and began routing planes over East Nashville. Immediately, folks living in East Nashville noticed the change and began (politely, as far as I’ve seen) complaining. Mostly about the noise and partly about there not having been any public announcement, discussion or request for comments (as the government generally operates in community matters). The Tennessean ran a nice story about it (to which I would link if it was still publicly accessible — try as hard as they might, old media just still don’t get the interweb).

I recall reading a letter to the editor from someone living near the airport accusing East Nashville residents of complaining unjustly and suggesting that we could put up with the noise as well as those living near the airport. But here’s the rub. My neighbors and I didn’t buy houses near the airport nor in the established flight paths. (We bought houses near railroad tracks that carry a steady stream of horn blowing trains heard for miles, but that’s a different story.) People who buy a house near the airport can reasonably expect to hear planes taking off and landing. And their property values should already reflect this characteristic. But I don’t live anywhere near the airport — or at least I thought I didn’t.

Let me tell you, the difference since this most recent change is remarkable. Several times over the past few months I thought a plane was landing on my roof the noise was so loud. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Now that the standard flight paths have reverted to the prior pattern, the relative quiet is palpable (and much welcomed). I know this arrangement won’t last indefinitely, as it puts the Nashville air traffic again out of compliance with FAA regulations, but I wonder how they will possibly resolve the situation without flying over other neighborhoods that don’t currently experience airplane noise.

At the very least, this turn of events demonstrates the non-futility of voicing complaints to decision-makers rather than just to whomever is in earshot. Lots of thanks to those who spoke out and to whomever made the decision to find a different solution. And so, in the end, this is a story of activism and taking charge of your circumstances. Don’t let the man (or life in general) roll you over. Get out and do something about it. And do not, under any circumstances, accept new airplane noise in your neighborhood, as it really sucks. A lot.

3 Comments so far

  1. brittney (unregistered) on September 20th, 2007 @ 8:34 am

    Didn’t bother me one bit.

  2. Jay (unregistered) on September 20th, 2007 @ 3:32 pm

    Actually, I think you [b]do[/b] live near the airport, you’ve just been lucky enough in the past to not realize it. Planes sometimes buzz my house in Berry Hill (must be a wind direction thing) and that’s just the price I pay for not living in Hohenwald.

    Planes have to take off somewhere, and I and a lot of other people would like them to not take off into the side of a building downtown. I guess we could move the airport to Kentucky. It worked for Cincinnati. ;)

  3. Chuck Bryant (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 8:59 am

    Thanks for the comments. I didn’t mean to imply that some people are more deserving of airplane noise than others. Or that East Nashville shouldn’t have any flyovers — we already do receive an occasional commercial flight, in addition to low-flying fighter jets and police helicopters. Those are fine and just part of living in the urban core. It’s the relentless onslaught of plane after plane, especially evenings and weekends when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors (or have your windows open) that destroys the relative tranquility. And I’m sure not all of East Nashville was affected equally, but my area was significantly impacted and I’m west of Gallatin Ave and north of Eastland Ave. South of Eastland (which is closer to the airport and thus the planes would have been lower) must have been a nightmare.

    Ideally, airports should be positioned in such a way that the standard low-flying air traffic would avoid residential areas. This is certainly the case with the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (long names are apparently the price you pay for relocating your airport to the sticks) which was located in the middle of nowhere when it was first built. Now it is surrounded by a thriving commercial/industrial district and any homes that get noise were likely built after the airport.

    I’m all for avoiding the downtown flight path as well, but not at the expense of any neighborhood’s tranquility. The Tennessean article quoted Butch Gelband, planning manager of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, as saying, “The FAA is going to look at another method of following the rule and not flying over these neighborhoods.” Here’s hoping they find a solution that meets the safety requirements and avoids further disruptions. I’d be fine with Baghdad-style corkscrew take-offs, but I’m pretty sure most airline passengers would disagree with me on that….

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