Letter to the Editor: Airplane noise fight needs financial help

Communities near the Potomac River have complained about increased air traffic over residential homes. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2016)

Residents in Georgetown and neighboring communities are justifiably disturbed and angered by the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to move the 70-year-old historic northern flight path from Reagan National Airport away from the commercial district of Arlington, Va., and across the Potomac River to Georgetown and its neighboring residential neighborhoods.

That unlawful transfer took place in the spring of 2015, without any notice to the District of Columbia or its residents.It is unfortunate that the representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, who are sworn to represent the interests of all citizens, chose to ignore the law and advance the interests of commercial Arlington over the interests of the historical residential communities in the District of Columbia.

In response to the FAA’s unanticipated and unlawful actions, the Citizens Association of Georgetown joined with neighboring civic associations from Foggy Bottom to Palisades and Georgetown University to take several actions.

First, they filed an appeal from the FAA orders establishing the new routes with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Second, they established the D.C. Fair Skies Coalition to oppose the flight path changes and to raise the necessary funds for the appeal. Third, they persuaded D.C. government officials to file a formal petition with the FAA demanding that the flight paths be promptly returned to commercial Arlington. Fourth, they persuaded the D.C. Council to allocate funds for a study of aircraft noise in D.C. and suggestions for mitigating it. The mayor included $450,000 in the budget for that study, and the contractor has commenced work on it.

The residents’ appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court has now been fully briefed and is awaiting oral argument by a three-judge panel of that court.

The D.C. Fair Skies Coalition engaged Dentons, a national law firm, to pursue the residents’ appeal before D.C. Circuit Court. That essential legal representation is expensive, and the coalition has not yet raised the funds necessary to cover those costs. Therefore, the coalition is asking all residents who will benefit from having the flight path moved back to Arlington to make a generous contribution to defray the costs of this essential litigation. Contributions can be made at cagtown.org/dcfairskies.

Don W. Crockett, Georgetown