FAA Flight Path Noise May Impact Historic Phoenix Homes

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2015 - 1:58pm
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(Kathy Ritchie/ KJZZ News)
Marjorie and Gerry McCue in front of their Fairview Place home.

Six months after the Federal Aviation Administration implemented flight path changes out of Sky Harbor, the consequences are still being felt and heard by residents in central Phoenix. Some want to reduce the noise by replacing their windows. But one couple is hoping that won’t happen.

Marjorie McCue and her husband, Gerry, live in the historic Fairview Place neighborhood in central Phoenix. The couple’s charming white home with its bright yellow awnings was built in 1944. They’ve been living there since 1962.

In the late 1980s, the McCues, along with several neighbors, formed a committee to designate the neighborhood historic. The work involved compiling research on each and every house.

"I went and photographed 342 houses. Then you had to draw, measure the house, 20x10x5, and then draw a little footprint for each house," Gerry said.

Now the McCues are worried that residents, frustrated and angered by the jet noise plaguing the area, are going to permanently alter the look of Fairview Place and other historic districts.

"One of the things many of them would like to like to do is to replace historic windows with more sounds proof windows," said Michelle Dodds, a historic preservation officer with the city of Phoenix.

Dodds said she’s received calls and emails from residents desperately seeking relief from the constant noise overhead.

"Windows are a character defining feature of a historic home and so that’s one thing we’re very concerned when people want to change the historic windows," said Dodds.

Besides preserving the look of a historic home, there’s also another issue. The city has given hundreds of homeowners grant money to rehabilitate their homes in exchange for something called a conservation easement.

The easement gives the city a chance to review exterior changes, like replacing a window. For the McCues, who are also impacted by the noise, they worry if there are enough significant changes to multiple homes, it could affect Fairview Place’s historical status.  

"When you sign on for historic preservation, you agree to preserve the house and changing the windows changes the look of the house," Marge said.

"We want to keep the historic elements of the house for people to see. If you drive down the street you’re looking at 1920, 1930, 1940, there’s nowhere else in the city that you can do that and say 'I’m right in the middle of history here,'" Gerry said.

The Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission will meet Monday afternoon to address the issue of conservation easements and if they should be lifted.