Robert Antlitz and his wife, Anna, bought their home in the southern tip of Ferndale 22 years ago, never suspecting they'd one day find themselves in an area the Maryland Aviation Administration believes is too noisy for people to live comfortably.
They certainly never thought they'd be unlucky enough to live in an area that's being added to Baltimore-Washington International Airport's "noise zone," even as state aviation officials are shrinking it drastically.
The Antlitzes joined more than 30 of their neighbors Wednesday night at Ferndale Elementary School to hear from state officials and airport activists what the change will mean to them.
Regardless of the soundproofing some homes might be eligible for under the state's noise-abatement plan, Mr. Antlitz, 62, reminded his neighbors that "once you step back into your yard, you're back in the noise zone."
"That's why a lot of us leave on weekends now," Mr. Antlitz reminded his neighbors as Mrs. Antlitz, 60, sat by his side. "Who wants to sit around the back yard with airplanes going over your head?"
The meeting was organized by Dennis Stevens, president of the Airport Coordinating Team, an activist group. Although the noise zone shrank from 12,000 acres to 750 under a map drawn up by the MAA this year, it is "expanding further than it ever has into Ferndale," he said.
A public hearing on the latest version of the noise zone map, redrawn every five years, is scheduled for Tuesday at Glen Burnie High School.
Maps of the updated noise zone and information about the Noise Abatement Plan will be available for review at 6 p.m. Formal testimony will begin at 7 p.m. Representatives of the MAA and Federal Aviation Administration will be available to answer questions.
The noise zone designates areas with an average daily noise level of at least 65 decibels, about the level of a downtown commercial street. About 150 homes are affected in the southern tip of Ferndale.
About 54 homeowners, mainly those who live in older houses, will be eligible for soundproofing assistance, said Meg Andrews, manager of the home assistance program.
Ms. Andrews, who attended Wednesday night's meeting, answered questions on aviation easement agreements, soundproofing assistance, buyouts, resale guarantees or soundproofing programs.
While state officials say BWI is a less noisy place to live near than five years ago, largely due to the quieter jets air carriers are required to use, Mr. Antlitz said when a jet roars overhead, he still can't hear his neighbor standing two feet away.
Because of the already constant noise, Mr. Antlitz and his family can't enjoy a sun porch he built nine years ago. He said he doesn't expect things to get better now with the area's inclusion in the noise zone.
Mr. Antlitz, a retiree, said he and his wife may sign up for the soundproofing, then consider taking a loss on their $137,000 home and move after his wife retires in two years.
If they do sell their house, "the selling point will be it's all soundproofed," said Mr. Antlitz yesterday at his home. "But hopefully they won't ask if you can go in the back yard and have fun."