What’s the Buzz with Airport Noise?

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Nikki Salgat

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By Nikki J. Salgat, Esq., Associate Counsel for the Arizona Association of REALTORS®

Airport noise can be a nuisance. More importantly, if a property is located within a high noise contour or accident potential zone, it may affect the owner’s ability to utilize the property as intended.

Disclosure of airport noise

Arizona law mandates that sellers disclose if a property is located in territory in the vicinity of a military airport or ancillary military facility. To assist with this legally required disclosure, the Residential Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement and Vacant Land/Lot Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement ask whether the seller is aware if the property is located in the vicinity of an airport.

What is territory in the vicinity of an airport?

Territory in the vicinity is defined by Arizona law at A.R.S. §28-8481(20). The definition provides that territory in the vicinity means any property located within certain zones. Those zones are described by way of dimensions that surround specific military airports in Arizona such as Luke Air Force Base.

For visual learners, the Arizona Department of Real Estate compiles airport boundary maps and makes them available to the public. These maps illustrate the boundaries of areas in the immediate vicinity of military and public airports that are susceptible to a certain level of noise from aircraft. The boundaries are typically referred to as noise contours.

The maps are a useful guide to determine if a property falls within a noise contour. Maps for military airports can be accessed at www.re.state.az.us/AirportMaps/MilitaryAirports.aspx and maps for many of the public airports are found at www.re.state.az.us/AirportMaps/PublicAirports.aspx. Additionally, images for the boundaries to military and public airports located in Maricopa County can be viewed at http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov. Notably, the maps are intended to show the areas subject to airport-related noise from a given airport. Periodic over-flights that may contribute to noise cannot usually be determined from these maps.

Zoning and development regulations

Not only can airport noise affect an owner’s enjoyment of their property, but it may affect their use of the property. More specifically, Arizona laws regulate the zoning and development of property located within areas of high noise contours or accident potential zones. The definition for noise or accident potential zones, along with the zoning and development regulations for those areas, can be found at A.R.S. §28-8481; http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/28/08481.htm and A.R.S. §28-8461; www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/28/08461.htm.

It is important to note that while a property may be zoned for a particular use, if that property is located in a high noise contour or accident potential zone, a buyer may not be able to develop and utilize the property as intended. In other words, a vacant land or lot may be zoned as residential but because that property is located within a high noise or accident potential zone, the buyer may not be authorized to construct a residential home on the lot. Therefore, because zoning and development may conflict with one another, a buyer should verify whether the buyer will be able to utilize the property as the buyer intends before purchasing a property near an airport.

About The Author

Nikki J. Salgat, Esq.

Nikki J. Salgat, Esq.

Nikki J. Salgat, Esq. is Associate Counsel at the Arizona Association of REALTORS®. Please note that this post is of a general nature and may not be updated or revised for accuracy as statutes and case law change following the date of first publication. Further, this post reflects only the opinion of the author, is not intended as definitive legal advice, and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.

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