Southlake residents hear increased air traffic in city

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Southlake residents who have become weary of elevated noise levels from jet airliners rumbling overhead have contacted city leaders with their concerns.

Ben Thatcher, Southlake assistant city manager, said city staff and council members have received complaints about increased airplane noise.

Southlake resident Vic Awtry said he spoke with city staff about the noise and sent an email to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport outlining the noise disruptions during a recent weekend.

“Saturdays, I like to work outside,” Awtry wrote in an email. “This was impossible since you could not stay out more than a few minutes at a time without getting a headache,” “I tried to read. Impossible. Take a nap? Go to bed early? Impractical.”

Thatcher said when city staff receives complaints they try to manage expectations. He also suggests residents with noise complaints call the airport’s 24-hour hotline.

“There is a lot of confusion around what the city can do with the airport,” he said. “At the end of the day we tell our residents we really can’t do anything.”

The Dallas/Fort Worth Airport estimates that its annual runway maintenance on runway 18L/36R, which impacts noise over Southlake, will be finished by Oct. 27, said Sandy Lancaster, assistant vice president in the airport’s Environmental Affairs Department.

People who call the hotline can request to speak with the noise compatibility planner who will answer questions and address concerns.

“Once people find out it’s only a temporary situation — by this date it’ll be over —then they're OK with that,” Lancaster said “It's much better to have education and understanding and it replaces those perceptions with fact,” Lancaster said.

On the weekend of Oct. 5, weather conditions forced airplanes to take off from runway 13R/31L, which faces the city.

Normally that runway is only used for arrivals, which has less noise impact than an engine taking off. When north prevailing winds force departures from the runway, the airport can estimate about 170 to 380 departures a day.

Typically, the airport schedules regular runway maintenance in summer months when it can expect fewer northern winds, Lancaster said.

The airport’s noise compatibility planner alerts nearby cities ahead of time when it is expecting north prevailing winds or runway closures that could mean increased noise.

Aside from the alerts, the city and airport have a map that shows an extended runway through the city and a surrounding noise-impact corridor. If an incompatible development, as outlined by the Federal Aviation Administration, is planned within the area, the airport will send a notice to the city. Depending on the average day and night sound level, residences, schools and even recreation areas may be incompatible.

Thatcher said the city uses that input to ensure developments that may be affected by noise are built with enhanced standards.

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dustindangli

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