(Updated at 11:45 a.m) Arlington is teaming up with some of its neighbors to the north to somehow find a solution to the persistent problem of aircraft noise generated by Reagan National Airport.
County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt announced last Friday (June 1) that Arlington and Montgomery County, Maryland have agreed to both chip in funds for a consultant to study the issue starting this year.
The Board members wrote in an email that the study’s goal is “to quantify the noise impacts on our community, to determine what specifically is driving the increase in those impacts in recent years and to identify and evaluate all actions that could reasonably be taken to reduce and mitigate them.”
“Despite what look like promising recommendations for operations south of the airport, the fact remains that we do not appear to be any closer to a solution today for those communities north of the airport than we were when this effort was initiated,” Garvey and Vihstadt wrote. “It is our hope that this study will result in concrete recommendations to achieve the county’s and the region’s goal of reducing aircraft noise where possible and to equitably share it where necessary.”
County leaders have been wrestling with the issue of aircraft noise for years now, particularly as National recorded a spike in air traffic in recent years. Nearby residents have become particularly perturbed by the noise as the airport adjusted flight patterns in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s “NextGen” modernization initiative for the air traffic system in 2014.
“We continue to hear loud and clear from our residents that the noise impacts have worsened significantly since this action and have had a substantial negative impact on their quality of life,” Garvey and Vihstadt wrote.
Arlington and Montgomery County residents are not the only ones grappling with the issue. Some residential portions of Northwest D.C. have encountered an increase in noise since NextGen was implemented a few years ago, leading one District resident to file thousands of noise complaints over the course of one year.
The county has worked with the FAA on the issue since October 2015, through the “DCA Community Working Group,” and the Board members say they’ll send the results of this new study to that group once it’s wrapped up. They plan to update the community on a timetable for the study in the comings weeks, and work is set to kick off with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) also recently proposed a series of amendments to the new FAA reauthorization bill to address the issue.
Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that police were dispatched at 9:49 p.m. to the 4200 block of 35th Street S. “for a report of a loud party.”
Via social media, residents described the gathering as a karaoke party for toddlers, held by parents in a condo parking lot. Two police cars arrived but no action was taken by officers, residents said.
The call to police prompted widespread indignation on a Facebook page for Fairlington residents, with many calling it “ridiculous.”
“Whichever of you suggested to call the police on a karaoke party before 10 p.m. on a Friday during [Memorial Day weekend], you must be a pleasure at parties,” said one.
“Sorry my child likes to play outside,” said another. “Thank you for calling the cops on us instead of walking over and asking us to turn down the volume on a kids’ ‘fashion show,’ cowardly neighbor. You’re a peach.”
“You’re a joke,” said yet another. “Say hi to your cats.”
The posts were later taken down by a page administrator, who urged greater civility among its thousands of members.
In an earlier post, which was also taken down after attracting numerous replies, a resident complained about noise from the party. (It’s unclear if the poster was the same resident who called police.)
“Appreciate it’s a Friday night, but our neighbors have decided to have a (loud) party (complete with karaoke) in our common court area outside,” she said. “Are there rules for noise at this hour? I’ve never had neighbors like this in Fairlington and we’ve lived here for 14 years.”
No citations were issued by police and the officers who arrived on scene did not even file a report, according to Savage.
“The minor incident was resolved and no police report was filed,” she said.
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Airport Noise Battle Rages On — “Residents in several Northwest Washington neighborhoods aren’t giving up their fight against airplane noise from flights at Reagan National Airport. They are asking for a rehearing of their case against the Federal Aviation Administration from a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.” [Washington Post]
Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) has added several amendments to the FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4) intended to reduce aircraft noise in the region.
One of the amendments would provide for soundproofing “residential buildings located on residential properties that are subject to increased perceived noise levels as a result of the NextGen initiative of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
A press release promoting the amendment did not provide further detail as to how this soundproofing would be executed, though it did note the expansion of discretionary grants to fund “noise compatibility programs” and “noise mitigation projects” in addition to soundproofing.
One of the amendments would charge the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration with developing “a noise inquiry website… to receive, track, and analyze complaints on an ongoing basis from individuals in the National Capital Region.”
There is already information on the FAA’s website about how to report complaints, however the advice generally instructs residents to either contact the FAA ombudsman or to complain directly to the airport about the alleged noise problem.
A separate amendment proposes a monthly helicopter noise abatement working group, led by the FAA and with Department of Defense officials in attendance, to “collect, correlate, and identify trends” relating to regional helicopter noise.
Another amendment seeks to “review and revise helicopter flight paths, including those used by the Department of Defense and all military helicopters, identifying and issuing new official paths for the areas in which helicopters may be able to fly at higher altitudes.”
The FAA’s official website also touches on military-related aircraft noise, noting that the agency “does not have the authority to regulate the operations of military aircraft.”
Back on January 16, Beyer held an aircraft noise community forum in Fairlington to discuss the issue with a few dozen attendees.
“It is frightening, it is often daily, and it is very disruptive to my life,” one woman said at the forum, adding that the noise upsets her pets and rattles her windows.
More from the press release:
Rep. Don Beyer today offered a series of amendments to H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act, designed to mitigate the effects of aircraft noise on communities in the National Capital Region.
“Hundreds of my constituents have expressed to me their frustrations with the slow pace of change prompted by their input to government authorities about aircraft noise,” said Rep. Beyer. “This problem isn’t getting better quickly enough. Northern Virginians have been patient, but there is more that can be done to reduce the toll taken by noisy aircraft on our community.”
He offered two amendments related to airplane noise which would expand discretionary grants which fund noise compatibility programs, noise mitigation projects, and soundproofing of houses in affected communities.
Additionally, Beyer will throw his full support behind an amendment to the same legislation offered by Rep. Barbara Comstock, which would block the expansion of flight slots in the region’s airports, increasing the quantity of flights and the resulting noise from aircraft.
Beyer also offered two amendments based on feedback from constituents presented during his Fairlington town hall on helicopter noise in January. One amendment would require the FAA to review helicopter flight paths, including Department of Defense and all other military helicopters, to find areas where they may fly at higher altitudes to reduce noise for communities below.
The other would require the FAA to set up a noise inquiry website using data from local airports, and to establish a helicopter noise abatement working group to look for ways to reduce helicopter noise in the region.
GGW Boosts Gondola — “While [the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola] might not be the one, most important transportation project in the whole region, it’s a worthwhile way to help people reach jobs and shops and reduce single-passenger car trips.” [Greater Greater Washington]
USB E-Cig Banned at APS — “Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have specifically banned a new type of e-cigarette that has gained popularity among local teenagers: the Juul.” [WTOP]
‘Collision’ to Showcase N. Va. Tech — Arlington and Alexandria’s economic development agencies last week “announced their collaboration in showcasing the brightest and emerging startups on a national platform next month at one of the fastest growing tech conferences in the country.” [Alexandria News]
Beyer Unhappy With Military Helo Report — “A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.” [InsideNova]
Snow Predicted for Arlington Tonight — “Expect a sloppy mix of precipitation that slowly transitions from rain to sleet to perhaps snow between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Map Tracks Water Main Breaks — A new map created by Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services shows the location of the dozens of water main breaks in Arlington County since Nov. 1. “It has been a particularly brutal winter season in Arlington,” DES said via Twitter. [Google Maps]
Local History Archives Closing Temporarily — “Beginning February 1, the Center for Local History’s off-site Community Archives, located at the Woodmont Community Center, will temporarily close for a renovation project.” The archives are not open to the public but are available to researchers on a by-request basis. [Arlington County]
County to Release Amazon Bid Details — Win or lose, after Amazon’s HQ2 process concludes Arlington County plans to release details of its bid for the tech and online retail giant. Arlington is now among those in the Top 20 for the second corporate headquarters. [InsideNova]
Fake ID Stat from ACPD — Bouncers caught 703 fake IDs in Clarendon last year, according to stats from the Arlington County Police Department. Extra vigilance from establishments like Don Tito and Whitlow’s helps “maintain Clarendon has a safe place to enjoy nightlife and entertainment,” says ACPD. [Twitter]
Nearby: DCA Noise Case in Federal Court — “The three-year battle between residents in Northwest Washington and the Federal Aviation Administration over noise from flights at Reagan National Airport is now in the hands of a federal appeals court… A ruling, which could take several months, will be closely watched by communities across the country grappling with similar issues tied to the FAA’s efforts to modernize the nation’s air traffic system.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Pentagon Looking into Helicopter Noise Reduction — After pressure from residents who live near the Pentagon, along with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), “FOX 5 has learned the Department of Defense is researching ways to reduce helicopter noise and is ready to hear concerns from… neighboring residents.” [Fox 5]
Caiazzo is New ACDC Chair — The Arlington County Democratic Committee has elected Jill Caiazzo, a lawyer and policy advocate, as its new chair. She succeeds Kip Malinosky, who was lauded at last night’s ACDC meeting for his four years of service as chair. [Blue Virginia, Facebook]
Favola Pushes Highway Name Bill — In an effort to allow Arlington to change the name of its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and perhaps even Lee Highway, state Sen. Barbara Favola “is patroning legislation that would allow any Virginia county, city or town to change the name of any highway in its environs, so long as the original name was put in place prior to 1965.” [InsideNova]
Homeless Shelter Busy During Cold Snap — Some 80 people a night were staying at Arlington’s homeless shelter in Courthouse during the recent extended blast of frigid temperatures. The shelter, which relocated to an office building next to Arlington police headquarters in 2015, can accommodate up to 90 people during sub-freezing weather. [Arlington Connection]
History of the Sun Gazette — In his latest column, “Our Man in Arlington” Charlie Clark recounts the history of Arlington’s Sun Gazette newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]
Printing Business Offers Free Pizza — In a unique partnership, Ballston-area printing business ASAP Screen Printing is partnering with newly-renamed pizza restaurant Alto Fumo to offer customers who spend at least $100 a free pizza. [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Harvard
Registration is open for Rep. Don Beyer’s (D) community forum in Fairlington later this month on helicopter noise.
Beyer will host the forum on January 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Abingdon Elementary School (3035 S. Abingdon Street), as part of a study he added to last year’s Defense Authorization Act that passed Congress.
Anyone wishing to attend must register online.
“The provision was proposed by Rep. Beyer in response to frequent complaints from constituents about excess noise from military helicopters,” organizers wrote. “It directs DOD to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”
Beyer to Host Helicopter Noise Forum — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is hosting a forum about “excessive noise from military helicopters” at Abingdon Elementary School in the Fairlington neighborhood on Jan. 16. [Associated Press]
Arlington Buying New CNG Buses — Arlington Transit is buying 13 Xcelsior compressed natural gas (CNG) forty-foot, heavy-duty transit buses, according to a press release from Minnesota-based manufacturer New Flyer of America. [New Flyer]
Recounting Jay Fisette’s Career — “It was pure chance that led Jay Fisette to Arlington in 1983. A college friend had rented a cheap, spacious apartment in Pentagon City, and a nearby unit was available. So Fisette found a roommate among his college swimming buddies and began hoofing the ‘cow path’ — open land that would become the Pentagon City mall — and hopping the Metro to his new job downtown.” [Washington Post]
Northam Re-Appoints Two Arlington Residents — Arlingtonians Richard Holcomb and Jaime Areizaga-Soto have been re-appointed to their state posts under the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Ralph Northam. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Voting is underway among some Fairlington residents on whether new sound walls should be added as part of the I-395 Express Lanes project.
Ballots have been mailed out to some neighborhood residents on whether sound barriers should be installed to mitigate the noise from the extended High Occupancy Toll lanes. The toll lanes will be extended for eight miles north from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road to the vicinity of Eads Street in Arlington, near the Pentagon.
The first round of ballots went out to residents in the north of the neighborhood in late September.
But Guy Land, president of the Fairlington Citizens Association, told ARLnow it was his understanding that a second round of ballots were mailed out earlier this month as less than 50 percent of the first round were returned. The results of the second round of balloting will be final, regardless of turnout.
AECOM Engineering Company is the contractor behind the sound walls, and is running the vote. An AECOM spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
In a presentation to FCA last year, the Virginia Department of Transportation said approximately 4.7 miles of highway in Arlington is eligible for the sound barriers, in addition to 3.4 miles in Alexandria.
Residents are eligible to vote based on their proximity to the proposed walls, and the noise the highway creates. Renters vote as well as homeowners, although the votes of owners have a higher weight.
FCA’s November newsletter detailed some of the concerns residents have with the sound barriers.
“The proposed walls are 25 feet high, which will impact sight lines and sunlight for residents on lower floors,” the newsletter reads. “The walls also require 10 feet of clear space on either side, which will require the destruction of a fair number of trees and shrubs around the neighborhood perimeter. And the walls themselves may only provide five decibels of noise reduction, according to designers.”
Image via VDOT presentation
The Army’s Presidential Salute Battery will be firing a 19-gun volley of 105mm howitzer cannons from about 7-7:15 a.m. as part of a dress rehearsal for the National Veterans Day Observance on Saturday.
“Arlington County neighbors are advised to expect intermittent, elevated noise level during this time,” said a press release from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
Arlington residents frequently report hearing cannon fire from the cemetery, usually in the morning. Depending on weather conditions, the noise can be heard in various parts of Arlington or even D.C.
The full press release about Thursday’s rehearsal, below.
The Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) will execute a 19-gun volley of its 105mm howitzer cannons beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, during a full force rehearsal. The rehearsal should last between 10 and 15 minutes. Arlington County neighbors are advised to expect intermittent, elevated noise level during this time.
The battery will be set up in Arlington National Cemetery for the rehearsal in preparation for the National Veterans Day Observance set for Saturday, Nov. 11.
The Presidential Salute Battery Guns Platoon fires its cannons at ceremonies in honor of the President of the United States, for visiting foreign dignitaries, during official government ceremonies, regional celebrations (such as the 4th of July program at the U.S. Capitol), and while rendering honors during the funeral services of our nation’s fallen service members and veterans.
The members of the regiment practice to maintain the highest level of ceremonial proficiency necessary and often practice in Arlington National Cemetery between 7 and 8 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. Arlington County neighbors are advised that during the fall and winter months, without leaves on the trees to buffer the sound, the booms of the cannons may seem louder.
Crystal City Development Plan Filed — Developer JBG Smith has filed a site plan application for what it’s calling “North District” — a multi-block redevelopment in Crystal City that will include a new movie theater, grocery store and Metro station entrance. The residential-heavy development is bounded by Crystal Drive, Route 1, 15th Street and 18th Street S. [Washington Business Journal]
Chamber Backs Staff’s VRE Recommendation — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce says county staff is right to recommend the placement of a revamped Crystal City VRE station closer to Metro. The staff recommendation “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” as compared to a placement option preferred by local condo residents who are concerned about train noise. [InsideNova]
DCA Noise Complaints — A total of 36,653 noise complaints were filed in 2016 regarding arrivals to and departures from Reagan National Airport, according to recently-released stats from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The complaints were filed by 836 individuals in 762 households, including one individual who filed 17,273 noise complaints. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Those near Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall next weekend can expect to hear live cannon fire during the U.S. Army Band’s annual 1812 Overture summer concert.
The free concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 at Summerall Field (247 Sheridan Ave) on the base. If it rains, it will be moved to across the street to Conmy Hall (239 Sheridan Ave).
The U.S. Army Concert Band, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus and the U.S. Army Voices ensembles will all perform. The program will include selections of classical, popular, and patriotic music.
The climax of the evening will be live cannon fire provided by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) during a playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Advance tickets are not required, and bleacher seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Food is allowed but alcohol, glass containers and coolers are not. All bags will be searched.
Cars and pedestrians can enter the base through the Hatfield Gate (off Washington Blvd and 2nd Street S.). The Henry Gate (off Arlington Blvd) will be open for pedestrians only from 6-10:30 p.m., while cyclists can enter at either gate. Valid photo ID is required for attendees aged 18 or over.
Photo via Facebook
‘Meeting Bowls’ Coming to Courthouse — A new, temporary public art installation is coming to Courthouse. Workers will be building 5-foot high “meeting bowls,” designed by the Spanish art collective “mmmm….,” and featuring an 8-foot long circular bench inside. The bowls, which are meant to be used by passersby, are expected to be completed by Monday, July 17 and will remain in place until November. [Washingtonian]
Pentagon City Residents Peeved by Shopping Carts — Legions of stray shopping carts are getting on the nerves of Pentagon City residents, NBC 4’s Julie Carey reported during a news broadcast last night. [NBC Washington, Twitter]
Scholarships Awarded to Wakefield Students — “The Wakefield High School Education Foundation recently awarded 27 scholarships totaling $201,000, bringing the total number of scholarships presented over the history of the foundation to 400 and the total dollar amount of scholarships and teacher grants to more than $2.25 million.” [InsideNova]
Local Author Pens New Thriller — Arlington resident Bill Schweigart, author of the Beast of Barcroft, a supernatural thriller set in Arlington, has penned another book of local interest: The Devil’s Colony, which features a fictional Arlington resident as its main character. [Penguin Random House]
Nearby: Montgomery Co. Consider Plane Noise Suit — Montgomery County, Maryland has hired a law firm to explore legal action against the Federal Aviation Administration in response to new flight paths that have produced a dramatic increase in aircraft noise complaints. The flight paths were implemented in 2015 as part of the FAA’s NextGen system and have prompted some complaints in Arlington and D.C. as well. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Westover Market — which combines a grocery store, restaurant and beer garden — went before the County Board late last month in a bid to add live indoor entertainment, expand its outdoor entertainment hours and have furniture on its patio year-round.
But that plan was scuttled in part by county staff finding the business at 5863 Washington Blvd violated several county rules. Some of the violations came to light the week before Westover Market went before the County Board and were included in the staff report on the plan.
In addition to alleged noise violations, Westover Market was accused of having more seats than it is allowed outside. The county states it can have a maximum of 29 outdoor seats, but in the April 25 meeting, CEO Devin Hicks admitted there are more than that.
According to a “Save the Beer Westover Garden” Facebook page, which has been active for several years through Westover Market’s issues with the county and a few neighbors, the owners of the market are scheduled to meet with county staff this Friday.
They will reportedly ask the county to suspend enforcement of the limit on seating on the patio, and have asked the fire marshall’s office for its opinion on a safe capacity. The market said it will also do the sound testing as required, and will comply with decibel limits and the hours that music is allowed.
Owner David Hicks wrote in a Facebook post that the business needs the extra seating to keep revenue up and survive.
“Here is the bottom line regarding Westover Market,” he wrote. “The business is not viable without the beer garden revenue. The beer garden is not viable without additional seating/occupancy. Every other problem can be overcome — including limits on music noise and restrictions on live music. But the outdoor seating is existential for the Market.”
“This would be devastating to the employees, the community, and not a good outcome for the county,” the Save the Westover Beer Garden said in another post. “We want the county to work with us to develop a plan that allows the beer garden’s continued existence and supports small businesses across the county.”
Representatives with Westover Market tried in vain to just add extra seating during the County Board meeting, only to be rebuffed as members said they wanted to see compliance with the rules already in place.
“This is actually fairly easy for me,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “Let’s establish a record of continuing to move forward with compliance before considering other alternatives. That’s all I see to this issue.”
County Board chair Jay Fisette said he was open to considering expanding the outdoor seating in the future if the market complies.
“I understand it’s a violation. But I also sit here and go almost everybody loves this place,” he said. “It’s a really popular neighborhood place. We’re talking about sound, we’re talking about nights and all the rest, but they’ve obviously got more interest than the condition allows them to have seats outside under the permit.”
Photo via Facebook