The announcement was made at a roundtable meeting of agency representatives and concerned community members coming from a long list of organizations, some formed around the issue of airplane noise, such as Queens Quiet Skies, and others, like the Eastern Queens Alliance, having broader missions.
The Part 150 Noise study, as it is officially known, is aimed at assuaging the communities most impacted by airplane noise.
“The fundamental purpose of a 150 NC study is for an airport to reduce noise impacts within the community,” said FAA Regional Environmental Program Director Andrew Brooks. “This is a voluntary program for the airport sponsor.”
The Part 150 study results in two documents: a Noise Exposure Map and a Noise Compatibility Plan, each of which takes about eighteen months to produce. The entire process takes at least three years, though Brooks said it could potentially take longer.
Given this information, Kendall Lampkin of the Hempstead Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee asked, “Do we have to wait 18 months before you can come up with noise abatement plans?”
“We’ve been doing this hurry up and wait for a while,” Lampkin said. “Now that we’re actually getting into it, there are some people in here that don’t want to have to move to Florida in order to see some relief.”
Central to the Part 150 study – and to much of the roundtable discussion – is the measure of the average level of sound throughout the day-night cycle, or DNL.
DNL measurements are based on the Schultz curve, which was conceived in the 1970s and measures “dose response,” or how affected by airplane noise people are as compared to how loud the noise is at their location.
Several voices in the room, including that of Rob Liebowitz, a resident of the Village of East Hills, advocated for the FAA to push their study beyond the standard profiling of the 65 DNL area, a thin O’Keeffian strip of land surrounding the immediate vicinity of an airport and its flight paths.
“Sixty is what you can plan to, 55 is what we’d like to see, along with a plan to go beyond that to 45 eventually,” he said. “In Boston, they have measured the 45. You should go out to that level so we can know.”
Preemptively, Leibowitz said to Brooks, “We know the realities of funding, we’re willing to fight for the funding, and go out and do what needs to be done to fund that.”
While Brooks reiterated at this point that the FAA is going beyond the law as it is to produce a 65 DNL study, the agency would adhere to stricter standards if they were in place.
“If there was a community that had a more strict standard, we would [comply],” Brooks said. That, he added, would have to be enacted on the local level through zoning and land use laws.
There was some disagreement about the nature of roundtable community input. Queens Quiet Skies called for a singular roundtable addressing the issues at all New York City and immediate area airports, while Eastern Queens Alliance pushed for each airport to have their own roundtable, with all reporting to a central coordinating committee, which would then report directly to the FAA and Port Authority. The matter was left undecided when the meeting came to a close.
The roundtable is scheduled to meet again in August on a date yet to be determined.