Tulsa Council Backs Home Buyout For Airport

A resolution the Tulsa City Council approved Thursday night could lead to the buyout of about 500 homes by the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust.

The resolution asks airport officials to make their "best efforts" to have the Federal Aviation Administration include in a buyout the homes in the Layman Acres, Van Acres and Moses neighborhoods.

Residents there have complained for years that they have been treated unfairly because they were not offered buyouts for their homes and were instead given noise-mitigation options.

A buyout of the areas would cost an estimated $40 million and be 90 percent paid for with federal funds and 10 percent with Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust funds.

Councilor Cason Carter said he is sympathetic to the homeowners, who have had to live with the noise from jets flying overhead for years.

"But I want to be clear that this resolution is only a policy statement," he said. " . . . It is not in any way binding on the city of Tulsa."

Carter emphasized that a buyout of the properties would not affect the city's general budget.

The residential areas are between Pine Street and Interstate 244 and between Spartan Aeronautics and an airport industrial area.

Councilor Roscoe Turner has been working for several years to help the residents, who live in his District 3.

"This has been a long time coming," he said to cheers and applause from the crowd after the vote. "It's the right thing to do."

Eight councilors voted in favor of the resolution, with Councilor Bill Christiansen recusing himself because he owns an aviation business.

Federal noise-mitigation programs began in Tulsa 20 years ago with buyouts of homes affected by average aircraft noise levels of 70 decibels.

Many homes in the neighborhoods in question are included in the airport's federal noise-abatement program, which provides three options: installing soundproofing, using a sales-assistance program, or selling flyover easements.

But the homeowners maintain that they want to be offered nothing less than a buyout.

Karen O'Brien lives in the Van Acres neighborhood. Her home is 1,900 feet from the airport's main runway, and Spartan is only half a block away.

It makes no sense that a residential area that is surrounded by aeronautical interests is not included in the buyout program, she said.

"Because of our island status, this area could be better used as industrial land or warehouse space," O'Brien said.

Carol Barrow, who lives in Layman Acres, said the area is populated by many older people whose homes are paid off.

They can't afford to take a loss by selling them and buying elsewhere without help, she said.

"We're just treading water in this situation," Barrow said.

Former Councilor Jim Mautino said those who don't live in the area might wonder why anyone bought a home there.

"It wasn't always the way it is now," he explained. "As the air traffic patterns have changed, so has the noise."

Airports Director Jeff Mulder has said changing the mitigation program to a buyout program would require a review of the airport's flight contours -- or areas affected by a certain amount of noise -- which is planned for this summer.

Copyright: Tulsa World -- 5/29/06

News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.