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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ocala resident discusses downside of living near commercial airport

To the Editor:

I have been a resident of Marion County since 2005. My family has resided in Marion County for three generations. I have been watching the discussion about the commercializing of Ocala International Airport with great interest. I have heard a lot of people say they are in favor of this because of convenience. However, I have not really heard many discussing the harsh realities of the downside that some have unfortunately experienced.

My family owns a home in Cedarhurst, Long Island. The house is in the direct flight path of a well-known commercial airport: JFK. While I was living in New York, I actually stayed in the house I’m mentioning for approximately one year due to being injured while working in law enforcement. In the past seven months, I have had to stay at the house again, quite frequently, due to a family member’s declining health. I bring this up because I have been harshly reminded of what an absolute nightmare it is to live anywhere around the flight path of an airport that is commercial. It is incredibly noisy. During the day, night, morning, and evening. Interrupted conversations, barbecues, sleep, etc. People try to avoid having special events in their yards. In New York, weather is cooler and more things are indoors. The noise is still outrageous. I bring this up because in Marion County, we can do more things outside. The noise will be even louder and the sound will travel further with the humidity.

I have heard the argument that the airports have noise ordinances and flight traffic is stopped during nighttime hours. This is completely incorrect. Anyone who thinks this can easily google the hours of flight operations at airports and see that there are zero restrictions on the hours that flights can takeoff and land. I have many videos of flights rattling the house during all hours of the night, every 35 to 60 seconds.

For those who think that you must be located near the runway of an airport to be disturbed by the noise, that is not correct. The house I am speaking of is six miles from the JFK airport, and even the small jets will rattle your brain. The 747’s and 767’s are absolutely unbearable. The houses around here all sustain damage due to vibrations from the noise. That’s right, six miles away, the houses have cracks that appear in the walls, the concrete, etc. Old, new, it does not matter.

Please keep in mind that ‘commercial’ also does not simply mean ‘passenger.’ Think Amazon, Chewey, FedEx, UPS, flights to World Equestrian Center, and any other commercial businesses that want to fly their goods into and out of the millions of square feet of commercial space they are attempting to construct even as I am typing this, including inside of the Farmland Preservation Area.

In summary, please think long and hard on both sides of this issue. We can appeal to people and businesses without inconveniencing people and losing the things that make Marion County incredible. It is not as cut and dry as simply having the convenience of the Allegiance flight you think you may be getting. I do understand wanting convenience, growth, and business. However, there is a proper balance that needs to be maintained. Shortening your ride to the airport to forty minutes by creating traffic and incredible noise pollution for over 100,000 of your neighbors does not seem like a good fit idea.

For me, I cannot wait to get out of the house where I hear these jets. I will gladly have nothing to do with an airport and keep my peace of mind. No flights every 35 to 60 seconds that interrupt my sleep, my grandson’s sleep, barbecues, pool parties, church gatherings, and weddings, not to mention the increased traffic, crime, etc. We were growing in a responsible, planned way. Some areas do that. We are the Horse Capital of the World with the Farmland Preservation Area. If we get back to protecting the things that make Marion County special and plan properly with smart growth, we can really be amazing, or we can lose our way and
simply be another huge city.

Michael Saxe
Ocala resident

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