Homeowners around Witham Field should not have to tell prospective buyers of their homes that they live near the airport, the Martin County Noise Advisory Committee recommended Thursday.
"Disclosure is really intended to punish those living here now," said Don Fogt, one of several residents at the meeting who opposed a recommendation from consultants to require the airport's proximity be disclosed.
"It won't do anything to fix the noise problem. All it will do is continue to affect our property values," he said.
No residents spoke out in favor of the disclosure requirement, and the advisory committee unanimously recommended against it.
"You shouldn't have to disclose the proximity to the airport. It's obvious," said Bill Frondorf, a committee member who is also a real estate agent. "Where do you draw the line?"
Jennifer Atkisson-Lovett, president of the Realtor Association of Martin County, said real estate agents are now required to disclose only defects with a piece of property that are not readily evident to the buyer. Proximity to the airport is evident, she said.
Neighbors of Witham Field have complained about pollution and noise caused by jets flying overhead, and several have sued the county.
Requiring disclosure or even publishing ads in local newspapers showing the areas affected by noise could help the county defend itself if people who were told about airport noise before they moved in later decide to sue, said Lisa Waters, the consultant studying the airport's noise issues for the county.
Disclosures also could discourage suits, Waters said. If the size of the area affected by noise later expands, those in the new noise zone may have claims against the county, she said.
But committee member and Stuart Commissioner Carol Waxler said she has a problem with anything that takes away a resident's right to sue.
"That's part of our basic rights as U.S. citizens," Waxler said.
The county commission will have the final vote on whether to require disclosures near the airport.
The committee also will make a recommendation at a later meeting on whether Stuart and the county should change zoning laws to prohibit new homes around the airport.
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