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Land-use maps to aid airport noise battle

The state’s study of ways to reduce noise from Bradley International Airport or ease its effects on nearby towns took an important step Thursday as land-use professionals signed off on maps showing current and projected patterns of land use.

The maps, which will guide judgments on which residents qualify for noise relief measures, outline a cross-shaped area surrounding the main runways at Bradley where average noise levels exceed 65 decibels. That is the level federal regulations define as “significant” – high enough to qualify for mitigation aid.

Agreement from officials representing seven nearby towns was vital to the study’s credibility, said Kevin Lynch, a planner with the state Department of Transportation who is coordinating the so-called Part 150 noise study.

Among those present were Windsor Town Manager R. Leon Churchill Jr., Enfield Planner Joe Giner, South Windsor Planning Director Marcia Banach and East Granby Town Engineer and Planner Charles Francis.

The effort to reduce noise from Bradley, or offer affected residents some form of relief – such as free soundproofing insulation – began three years ago. The report, being developed by consultants hired by the transportation department, is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall.

Changes in flight patterns and other airport operations will be part of the noise study’s recommendations, but those were not on the table Thursday. Lynch said those present discussed ways towns could regulate land use to help residents avoid the annoying roar of overhead jetliners.

The comprehensive noise study, under Part 150 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, also may result in new takeoff procedures or flight routings, changes in the use of Bradley’s three runways, as well as changes in land use around the airport. Last year, a change was made in the routing of planes leaving Bradley to the southwest over Windsor and East Granby.