Jet noise class action suit aims at Whidbey brokerages

A group of Coupeville-area homeowners want to sue local real estate brokerages, claiming they were not properly informed about Navy jet noise.

Seattle-based firm Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie sent letters to residents last month, seeking people who may want to join the class action suit.

The firm’s letter said it was retained by “several property owners” whose names are not yet public.

The law firm declined to comment until after a class action suit is filed.

Coupeville is home to Outlying Field Coupeville, an airstrip used by Navy aircraft for field carrier landing practice, or touch-and-go operations, by nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Noise associated with the practice, particularly by the Navy’s new EA-18G Growler, has become the subject of heated debate over the past year.

A separate federal lawsuit was filed over jet noise last year, asking the Navy to conduct an Environmental Impact Study.

The lawsuit was suspended after the EIS got underway.

Some residents claim real estate brokers and county leadership failed in their responsibility to inform homeowners about the potential of jet noise prior the purchase of their homes.

County staff researched the issue and concluded that a one-paragraph disclosure used for the several years was the wrong disclosure, and that a more detailed disclosure existed in the Airport Operations Noise Disclosure Ordinance.

After the revelation, Island County real estate brokers started using in January an updated, expanded jet noise disclosure form.

The lawsuit will likely seek “to recover damages from listing brokerage companies for allegedly violating the Airport Operations Noise Disclosure Ordinance” the county had on the books since 1992, according to the law firm’s letter.

“For reasons that are not yet fully understood, this disclosure was routinely omitted from purchase and sale documents,” the letter said. “As a result, purchasers were not informed of the very substantial and disruptive noise that results from these airports.”

The law firm argues that not only were some residents not provided the proper disclosure form, but that using a more stringent one now will make their option to sell their property more difficult.

“Since the passage of the Noise Disclosure Ordinance, noise levels have risen substantially at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island due to increased operations and noisier aircraft,” the letter said.

Homeowners within the county-designated Noise Zone who want to sell or rent their property are now be required to give each prospective tenant and purchaser the new, longer noise disclosure form.

“Presumably, this disclosure will adversely impact the value of properties located within the Noise Zone,” according to the letter.

“We would like to speak with property owners who purchased property in the Noise Zone and did not receive the required noise disclosure.”

The lawyers are seeking people who can share “the disruption you may be suffering as a result of the noise and any information you may have about how this is affecting the rental or sale value of your property.”

Jason Joiner, government affairs director for the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors, recently said his organization is aware of the lawsuit but is not going to comment at this time.


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