Berkeley County Commissioners OK noise, height laws

September 03, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - In preparation for the arrival of C-5 cargo planes to the local West Virginia Air National Guard base, the Berkeley County Commissioners Thursday night adopted a noise and height ordinance that restricts or limits building in certain locations near the base.

No homes, schools or churches can be built in areas where the noise level caused by the C-5s will be 75 decibels or higher, said Norwood Bentley, legal counsel for the county.

Mitigation measures must be in place in houses that are built in areas where the decibel level will be between 65 and 75. Such measures could include double-paned doors or windows, Bentley said.


The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent to 95 percent of the mitigation costs for homes already in place, said Rick Wachtel, chairman of the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority. However, the FAA will not pay for mitigation measures in homes built after the noise ordinance's adoption date - Thursday, Wachtel said.

A number of homes are in areas where the decibel level is expected to be between 65 and 75, but only one is in an area where the noise level will be 75 decibels or more, said Eastern Regional Airport Manager Bill Walkup.

The ordinance also restricts the acceptable height of buildings in areas near the airport's runways, which will be extended to accommodate the large planes.

Although C-5s are louder than the current C-130s being used by the 167th Airlift Wing, they will be flown less frequently.

Col. Bill Burkhart, with the 167th Airlift Wing, said C-130s perform 28 to 30 flight operations a day and often fly low or circle above the area. The C-5s will perform only two operations a day and will leave the area and immediately go to another location.

An analogy, Wachtel said, is that C-5s are like tractor-trailers going from one coast to another, while C-130s are like in-town delivery trucks.

Ten C-5s will be phased in at the base, beginning in 2007.

The commissioners said that a copy of the ordinance, along with maps showing the affected areas, will be posted on the county's Web site at

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