Editorial: Repetitive Noise Of Any Kind Is Annoying

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 04 January 2017 05:00

Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council will consider amending the zoning ordinance during their January 10th, meeting to either permit or prohibit commercial aircraft operations in the Industrial zoning district off Dow Road as well as a new "special permit" that would permit helicopters to operate multiple times a year in the Highway Business District along Lake Park Blvd.
(See report on Page 1-A...)
Many people have spoken in favor and in opposition to the proposals. Those in favor cite economic benefits for the Town and claim safety concerns are not warranted as they cite national statistics showing helicopters as a safer form of transportation than automobiles.
Those who oppose commercial helicopter operations of any type anywhere in the community express concerns about safety and repetitive noise disturbing their quiet enjoyment of their properties.
Mayor Dan Wilcox is in a relationship with Jessica Ward - the owner of High Tide Helicopters of Oak Island, NC. Wilcox previously addressed public comments about their relationship when some citizens questioned how that relationship would influence his opinion on the issue.
The primary issue is not safety. Helicopters are largely safe. They're not falling out of the sky every day. The media doesn't report on every auto accident, just the rare ones such as an out of control car plowing into a persons living room. You see coverage of helicopter crashes because, while not rare, they occur far less frequent than auto accidents.
The primary concern is the noise. The occasional military plane or helicopter flying over head is innocuous at best. It's fun to run outside and catch a glimpse of them passing overhead. Jetliners typically generate a very minor amount of noise at a higher constant pitch while passing at a high rate of speed.
Helicopters operating tours  from Oak Island occasionally fly down the beach strand and it's not an issue for residents on the beach front or further back in the more quiet residential areas of Carolina Beach. Now, imagine allowing helicopters to take off and land across from the Carolina Beach Town Hall. That's an area within a business district that hosts restaurants, shops, a veterinarian's office and other low impact businesses that generate almost no measurable noise. That area is also surrounded by long established residential districts.
The noise of a commercial helicopter taking off and landing all day long is much louder than a helicopter occasionally flying overhead. It's loud and the repetition of that noise occurring every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day will disturb people eating in area restaurants, worshiping at the nearby church or trying to get their infant to sleep inside their home. It will disturb those who work from home (telecommuters). The Town has a noise ordinance on the books, although admittedly it's a set of rules they rarely enforce. The purpose of a noise ordinance is to establish rules that serve to protect citizens' quiet enjoyment of their property by governing the level and repetition of noise that can be heard from one property to the next.
If the Council wants to open the door for charity and educational events where  a helicopter lands and takes off as part of a school event or wedding, one landing per event with  limit on the number of permits,  that's perfectly understandable. Yet, allowing helicopters to land and take off from land within Carolina Beach every 15 or 20 minutes throughout the day is nothing like a "special event" and is actually a pop up airport much to the dislike of many people in the community except those who want to take a tour while wearing headsets that block the noise during their ride.
Residents who want to express their opinions on the matter should attend the January 10th, Town Council meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall. Voice your support or opposition.


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