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As residents of an urban neighborhood, general noise levels are higher than for a farm, remote cabin or house in suburbs. However, there are levels at which noise negatively impacts human health. As such, Anchorage has a noise ordinance (Chapter 15.70 NOISE CONTROL) to regulate levels of noise in the interests of public health. The Ordinance lists noise levels that are subject to a valid noise complaint. It also identifies certain exceptions to the law.
Fairview residents experience a significant amount of noise. Some is to be expected as it represents evidence of vibrant urban life. However, ambient noise levels exceeding safe standards are detrimental to our Quality of Life. An excessive level of noise is not healthy.
Noise Heat Map
This is a graphic display of data. It is similar to Crime Heat Maps published by the Anchorage Police Department. The purpose is to map out levels and occurrences over time to visually illustrate whether there are any patterns of negative noise levels.’ Per the Ordinance, noise levels start to become bothersome at 50 decibels and when above 70 decibels become a serious public health issue.
Data is compiled using noise measurements collected by a free Noise App (NIOSH Sound Level Meter) developed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. It’s described at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pubs/apps and is available online for iOS users at the App Store.
If possible, keep a daily, weekly or monthly noise data log (location, date, time, type, dbl level) and upon completion send to the President of the Fairview Community Council listed on the front page of the site. A heat map will be much easier to develop if weekly or monthly data is provided in an Excel spreadsheet. However any full data submissions are greatly appreciated.
Noise generated by aircraft in the established arrival and departure patterns for Merrill Field Municipal Airport are exempt from the Municipal Noise Ordinance. However, aircraft that are operating “out of pattern” are also outside the published guidance and thus subject to a Municipal noise complaint. Aircraft that are stationary and not in the direct activity of arrival/departure are also subject to the requirements of the Ordinance.
The FAA has published information describing the recommended “Good Neighbor Policy” for Merrill Field. It is available in Appendix C Noise Exposure Map Update , Merrill Field Airport on this site. Over the relatively high-density areas of our community, the recommended height for all aircraft using Merrill Field is 1,000 ‘ except during arrival and departure. This is about three times as high as the highest building in Anchorage (Conoco/Phillips downtown). If the plane looks like it could touch the community’s highest building then it is likely flying about 300’ above the ground. Low heights produce higher noise levels.
The Aviation Tower at Merrill Field controls the airspace and the operators have the discretion to let aircraft, particularly those practicing what’s called “touch-and-go’s, to operate as low as 300 feet. Historically, Merrill Field Tower is used as a training station for new Air Traffic Controllers due to the unique characteristics of the Anchorage airspace. As a result, there may not be an adequate understanding of the negative impacts to Fairview residents due to their discretionary decisions.
One possible benefit of the Noise Heat Map is that it could help quantify how and to what degree is the behavior of planes doing what activity is associated with unhealthy noise levels in the Fairview neighborhoods. If relevant, the data log should note if a certain type of aircraft (helicopter, tundra-tired, small jet, etc.) is associated with a high noise level.