AEX Relocates Homeowners - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

AEX Relocates Homeowners

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ALEXANDRIA AIRPORT - Forty thousand flights per year, 26 take-offs and landings per day, and continuous military activity--that's what goes on at the England Airpark.

It's convenient to have an international airport right here in Alexandria, but it can create a problem for those who live a little too close by.

When Alexandria airport officials first contacted Debbie Boudreaux and her family about moving, they had a strong response.

Debbie Boudreaux: "We said no. We went to the meeting at the England Authority and we said no, this is our home, and we've lived here since 1967. We're not giving up anything. And the noise, the noise never really bothered us."

But that noise from planes flying low overhead is exactly why the England Authority offered to move Boudreaux's family, as well as almost 200 of her neighbors. And although they were initially reluctant, eventually, Boudreaux and her family agreed.

Boudreaux: "As the houses came down, we threw our hat into the ring, and that was a little over a year ago."

It's part of a noise mitigation program, federally funded at AEX for the last four years. Nearly 40 million to date, and just this week another 7 million dollars was granted for the project.

Dudley Hixson, project coordinator: "The federal government purchases their property, and moves them to an alternate residence at government cost."

Dudley Hixson says, so far they've bought almost half of the properties of the 194 homes in the surrounding "noise zone"--the area where airplane noise levels clock in at 75 decibels or more. But Hixson says, homeowners don't have to go anywhere if they don't want to. Participation is 100 percent voluntary.

Hixson: "People now understand we're not out to take anything for free."

Debbie Boudreaux grew up in this neighborhood, got married in this house, and raised her family on these acres. But now, she's moving on, settling into the idea, she says. A decision that's now given her peace and quiet.

Boudreaux: "We kind of decided, it's just a house. It's just a shell of a house. Home is right here. We have our new homes out there. So we're excited."

Project coordinators say they're waiting on federal approval for a new soundproofing program, as an alternative to moving homeowners.

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