Neighbors petition Maryland Aviation Administration to halt BWI expansion until NextGen issues are resolved

A community group has petitioned the Maryland Aviation Administration to halt expansions at BWI Marshall Airport until the Federal Aviation Administration reduces noise from low-flying planes.

Earlier this summer, Maryland officials approved a $60 million renovation and expansion project at the airport, over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot and residents who live near the airport.

The petition was filed Monday by the the BWI Community Roundtable, a group that was formed to address residents’ concerns about noise pollution created by the FAA’s implementation of new routes under the “NextGen” GPS-based system in 2014.

“Maryland residents are suffering substantial mental and physical harm and loss of enjoyment and value of their homes from the implementation of NextGen and other FAA actions at BWI,” says the petition, signed by Mary Reese, the roundtable’s chairwoman.

BWI CEO Ricky Smith has said the renovations to the Southwest Airlines terminal would upgrade an aging baggage system at the airport that has caused long waits for some passengers. He said bathrooms and the food court also would be expanded.

The battle between irritated neighbors and the FAA has been going on for several years.

The FAA earlier this summer cut off talks with state officials and the BWI Roundtable about flight noise at the airport after Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a pair of petitions asking the agency to readjust flight paths to reduce the noise. Howard County also filed a petition.

The petition sent Monday says the MAA, the state agency operating the airport, has offered incentives such as low taxes on jet fuel so that airlines will expand at BWI — without taking into consideration the environmental costs. Some residents have said they can draw lines in the exhaust particulates that settle on their properties; other say they experience oil slicks in their pools.

“We therefor [sic] petition the MDOT/MAA to stop all plans to expand BWI without a fix to the harms caused by NextGen for both departure and arrival flight paths,” the petition concludes.

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