Long-awaited maps depicting flight paths for new F-35B fighter jets, along with safety and noise zones around Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, were released Friday.
Gone from the new maps are two noise corridors that extend southwest from the air station's main runway toward Lemon Island and to the northeast toward the Combahee River.
However, the new buffer will be wider, and its noise zones will contain nearly 4,000 more acres, according to the plans, which are part of a new Air Installation Compatible Use Zone.
The update, nearly two years in the making, is necessary because the first F-35B jet squadron is set to arrive in June and will start training in October, air station officials have said. Many residents are concerned that the jets, which have vertical take-off and landing capability, will be much louder than the F-18 Hornets they will replace.
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The AICUZ is intended is to promote development that is compatible with high-noise areas, keep the public safe from possible plane crashes and protect the air station's operations.
The effect of the jets' arrival and the new AICUZ study is not yet clear, according to Beaufort County Councilman Brian Flewelling, whose district includes areas within the AICUZ. The study is the first step in what could be a yearlong process to adjust county zoning around the air station.
"With this document you won't be able to get down to the level of detail of what we need to plan, so we've got to perform a new (land-use study)," Flewelling said.
Air stations officials will present the maps and explain the new jets' effects on nearby communities at 4 p.m. March 20 at the National Guard Armory in Beaufort, according to an air station news release.
County officials have not yet reviewed the new AICUZ documents but will start next week, Flewelling said.
A committee that will review zoning within the AICUZ will meet at the end of the month and include planners and engineers from the county, the Lowcountry Council of Governments, the city of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and the air station, Flewelling said.
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- 2013 Air Installations Compatible Use Zones Study for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
- Lowcountry Flea Market set to close under zoning compromise, March 4, 2014
- Beaufort community still awaits new noise zones for F-35, Feb. 28, 2014
- Military committee chairman: Proposed defense cuts, BRAC shouldn't harm Beaufort bases, Feb. 26, 2014
- Lady's Island business group members concerned about future F-35B noise, Feb. 11, 2014