Loudoun Co. to draw new map to reflect noisiest areas around Dulles Airport

The arrival of Metro at Dulles Airport and into growing Loudoun County, Virginia, includes the likelihood of airport expansion — and more noise.

Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors has voted to draw a new noise map of the area surrounding Dulles, which could affect future development, and real estate disclosures for people already living near the airport.

Loudoun County zoning rules preclude building homes in areas where noise is loudest, and maps depict areas where airport noise would affect homeowners.

The maps of airport noise surrounding Dulles were last updated in 1993.

The board voted unanimously to draw a new map, to reflect changes made in the county over the last few decades, and to avoid noise complaints.

“The actual configuration of the runways changed,” said Dulles Supervisor Matt Letourneau. “The westernmost runway was actually aligned differently than what was done when this first study was done.”

The new map would include findings of a 2019 noise study.

However, redrawing the map to more accurately reflect zones could be problematic to people already living in the county, Board Chair Phyllis Randall told the panel.

“There are homes already built. If we put their homes in an Airport Overlay District, it could impact their property values,” said Randall. “And they can’t do anything about it, because they moved to that area before this new map.”

Real estate sellers are required to disclose if homes fall in an airport noise zone.

Randall and Letourneau agreed that current properties could be “carved out” of the map, to avoid negatively affecting people already living there.

According to staff, redrawing the map would result in a negligible increase — 39 acres — in land available for development.

Letourneau said redrawing the map would provide information for future homeowners.

“We do have people who move into this county, and seem to not understand that they moved in next to an airport,” Letourneau said. “So, they’re required to sign documents at their closing that tells them that — and that’s what we use these lines for, it’s not to restrict development.”

Dulles Airport is located in both Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

“Fairfax County has not adopted these new lines,” Letourneau told the board. “I think to the detriment of the airport, they are deciding to building housing within the [loudest zone], which is not something I would advocate for.”

Plans call for the board to have the opportunity to approve the new maps in May 2022.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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