Noise News for Week of August 10, 1997

More Local Laws on Long Island and Around the Country Ban or Limit Leaf Blower Use

DATE: August 11, 1997
SECTION: News; Page A18
BYLINE: Andrew Metz
DATELINE: Long Island, New York
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Eric Pomerance, Great Neck resident; Sheldon Leffler, Queens Councillor; Steve Israel, Huntington Town Board member; Edith Mendel, chair, Great Neck Estates' Environmental Conservation Commission; Maureen Cruise, former public health nurse in Los Angeles; Larry Nadel, mayor, Village of Great Neck Estates

Newsday reports that residents and officials on New York's Long Island and in other communties around the country are increasingly complaining about and seeking to pass laws restricting the use of leaf blowers. The article goes on to explore restrictions in Long Island communities, including a ban enacted by the Village of Great Neck Estates in June on the summertime use of gasoline-powered blowers. In addition, the article explores the history of leaf blowers, the health effects of leaf blowers, and attempts by leaf blower manufacturers to make the machines quieter and more palatable to residents.

The article reports that the leaf blower fight is essentially a suburban movement that touches on issues of the environment and class. Leaf blowers are viewed by many suburbanites as a threat to their quality of life, even though it is those very tools that have manicured their lawns for years, the article says. According to Queens Councillor Sheldon Leffler, leaf blowers are one of the worst noise polluters in the city, especially in suburban areas. Leffler said, "The power leaf blower annoys a lot of people. A lot of it is that people feel it is blowing leaves into the street, or from lawn to the next lawn."

According to the article, the Village of Great Neck Estates enacted a summer ban on gasoline-powered blowers in June, making it the first Long Island community to do so. The village followed the lead of communities in Westchester County and in California, including Los Angeles, which is currently trying to implement a contentious year-round ban begun last month. In addition, two Long Island townships, a few villages, and New York City have all recently restricted the hours when blowers can be used, and officials in several other communities are considering stricter prohibitions. For example, officials in the town of Huntington are considering a phase-out of blowers louder than 65 decibels, which is the touted decibel level of the quietest leaf blower model. (Older blowers can exceed 90 decibels, the article notes.) Huntington Town Board member Steve Israel, who is proposing the phase-out, said he gets more complaints about leaf blowers than any other town issue. In addition, Queens Councillor Leffler's staff is researching ways to tighten the city's noise regulations, including a ban or muffle requirement.

The article goes on to give a brief history of leaf blowers. Leaf blowers were first used by gardeners in the early 1970s in California. In the mid-1970s, a drought in California led to water conservation, and leaf blowers replaced hoses to clean driveways and sidewalks. By 1976, the article reports, Beverly Hills had banned blowers, saying they were nuisances. Throughout the 1980s, other communities in California enacted restrictions on the blowers, and as environmental awareness has heightened and more people have started to work at home, restricting leaf blowers has become popular elsewhere too. Today, leaf blowers are used for every aspect of yard clean-up, the article says. According to industry estimates, there are more than 8 million gas-powered leaf blowers in the country today, with another 1.5 million expected to be sold in 1997. However, estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put the country's gas-powered leaf blower population at closer to 3 million. The article goes on to say that at least 40 communities in California currently have bans or restrictions on leaf blowers. In addition, three Chicago suburbs, several New Jersey towns, and seven communities in Westchester, including Scarsdale, have restrictions or seasonal bans.

Leaf blower opponents say the machines cause dangerous noise and air emissions, the article reports. Noise from blowers can cause stress, depression, or other negative health effects, they say, and airborne particulate emissions can cause other sicknesses. Edith Mendel, chair of the Great Neck Estates' Environmental Conservation Commission, which led the push for the village ban, said, "You can't use your garden. People say they can't think, they can't study, they can't write" because of leaf blower noise. Eric Pomerance, a Great Neck resident, said, "You could lose your sanity. That's a medical fact. You could go crazy.... You are being attacked. Why the law allows you to mount an internal combustion engine on a man's back.... It's nonsense."

Although noise from leaf blowers has often been opponents' primary dislike, the environmental issues also enrage many opponents, the article says. Mendel said, "We didn't realize there were a lot of contaminants being blown into the streets. That was an eye-opener for us. There are many more reasons than noise to have this restriction." Opponents say that blowers stir up and spread particulate matter, including feces, dirt, chemicals, and bacteria, which can make allergies worse and have been linked to respiratory and other serious health problems. In addition, opponents point to leaf blowers' smog-causing emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides, the article reports. An EPA estimate found that one leaf blower operated for an hour gives off the same amount of volatile organic compounds, or hydrocarbons, as a typical passenger car driven 100 miles. Maureen Cruise, a former public health nurse from the seaside Los Angeles community of Pacific Palisades, said, "It's like having twelve diesel engines sitting on my front lawn running. This has been painted as an elitist issue.... The blower is an equal opportunity polluter, but it tends to affect the gardener with more ferocity." Cruise added that professional gardeners, who are often uneducated or without access to public health data, are the primary victims of leaf blower pollution, and that they are being exploited by blower manufacturers, who know the risks. She said, "These guys are being poisoned. We know these machines kill...and we are next in line." In 1994, the EPA found that pollution from lawn and garden tools is "significant source of ozone and carbon monoxide emissions," and the agency went on to establish standards for new, two-cycle engines, which power leaf blowers. Those regulations go into effect at the end of the month, the article reports, and the agency expects them to reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 32%. The EPA notes that lawn and garden equipment emit about 6.8 million tons of pollution a year, and account for about 50% of all summertime emissions from nonroad sources. However, that is still less than 1% of all emissions nationwide, according to the agency. Leaf blower opponents agree that banning blowers will not solve the pollution problem, but see the effort as part of a larger fight to make the environment cleaner and improve quality of life. Larry Nadel, the mayor of the Village of Great Neck Estates, said, "It's for the public good. [Residents] were looking for some relief. We can't get rid of lawn mowers because there is no other way, and we want to have grass. We can't get rid of airplanes. This was something we could do to move forward to a quieter, more peaceful summer."

Meanwhile, gardeners and leaf blower manufacturers are struggling to defend their machines, asserting that blowers are being unfairly singled out and that gardeners would have to raise prices if leaf blowers are restricted. Bob Schupbach, president of the Nassau chapter of the Nassau-Suffolk Landscape Gardeners Association, said leaf blowers are really "power brooms" that allow gardeners to work more efficiently. He added that without his blowers, a typical property would take at least 40% more time to clean using rakes and brooms. Andrew Hanlon, a landscaper in North Merrick landscaper, agreed, saying he has been a gardener for 44 years, and that a work crew would need two more people if they had to sweep or rake. Hanlon acknowledged that the blowers are noisy, but said gardeners' associations were making an effort to educate gardeners so blowers are less of a nuisance. Joseph Tinelli, a Westchester landscaper and former president of the New York State Turf and Landscape Association, said, "It is absolutely nuts. You can't believe the rhetoric we hear. The ones that are arguing for these bans are affluent, save-the-whale types. They are retired or they work at home."

Leaf blower manufacturers such as Echo Inc., the nation's largest, have been battling leaf blower bans for a decade, the article reports. Robin Pendergrast, a national spokesperson for Echo, said of leaf blower restrictions, "It's vogue. It's the thing to do. The perception is that the city councils are doing something good. But they don't have any idea of the potential backlash." Where there are bans, leaf blower dealers report they are losing money, the article says. For instance in Westchester, dealers report that their blower sales have dropped, and commercial landscapers say they're not buying as many blowers. In Los Angeles, a top power equipment dealer says his blower sales have dropped 40% this year. In response to leaf blower restrictions, Echo and a few other manufacturers have created quieter blowers and have promoted limiting use to reasonable hours, using as few blowers as possible, and operating the machines at half throttle when possible. This summer, Echo released a $425 backpack blower that it says is the quietest on the market at 65 decibels. However, the company is locked in a dispute with Consumer Reports, the article says, which published test results last month that show the machine is considerably louder. Other attempts have been made to educate gardeners about leaf blower use, the article reports. Pat Voges, a retired Bay Shore garden equipment dealer and member of the Nassau-Suffolk Landscape Gardeners Association, said that much of the backlash in the area is a result of non-licensed gardeners who don't consider the time of day or the number of blowers they use in their operations. Voges said the association has mounted an effort to educate gardeners through leaf blower training programs.

In addition, the article reports, gardeners and industry representatives dismiss the environmental concerns of opponents as undocumented and exaggerated. Pendergrast of Echo said, "Feces and all that stuff, I'm sorry, I don't buy it. If blowers caused bodily harm, if they were injurious, I'd be the first one to call them off the market. But it's just not the case."

Pendergrast went on to say that Echo has been considering taking legal action against Los Angeles because of the city's gas-powered leaf blower ban. However, the article notes that challenges to such bans historically have been unsuccessful, except for one ruling in 1994 by then Scarsdale Village Justice Virginia Knaplund, a ruling which was later overturned. Knaplund ruled that Scarsdale's ban on blowers was unconstitutional because it targeted blowers regardless of actual volume or relation to other equipment, such as trimmers or mowers, the article reports. In addition, the bans only applied to residential areas, and exempted areas such as golf courses. Knaplund said, "You have got to act evenhandedly, not arbitrarily. It banned a particular machine without banning others that may or may not be just as noisy.... People in like circumstances were being treated differently."

In the meantime, many residents in the Village of Great Neck Estates are enjoying their leaf blower free summer, the article notes. Mendel, of the Environmental Conservation Commission, said, "It is so much quieter. It is hard to believe what we have been suffering through all these years." In the fall, the article reports, the village will welcome back leaf blowers to tidy up during leaf season.

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Chicago O'Hare Airport Noise Fight Shows No Sign of Abating

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: August 10, 1997
SECTION: Sunday News; Pg. 35
BYLINE: Jon Schmid
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the long-standing fight between the City of Chicago and the suburbs over aircraft noise from O'Hare Airport has shown no sign of abating this summer, even with the implementation of the city's "Fly Quiet" program. The article summarizes the history of the fight, as well as the major issues and proposed solutions.

According to the article, O'Hare was built for military use in 1949, and opened to commercial traffic in 1955. Many of the residents from the 16 suburbs surrounding O'Hare have opposed the growth of the airport. The population of those suburbs has nearly doubled since 1960, the article says, to a total of 437,000. Meanwhile, arrivals and departures at the airport have increased tenfold since 1950, with a total of 909,593 in 1996.

One of residents' major concerns with aircraft noise, the article says, is its effects on property values. Homes closest to the airport regularly experience noise at around 75 decibels, about the same noise level as being in the same room as a vacuum cleaner. A survey of real estate brokers and appraisers in 1991 found that more than half of those surveyed frequently encountered prospective home buyers who wanted to avoid dwellings that experience aircraft noise.

In June, the article reports, the city started and promoted its voluntary "Fly Quiet" program at the airport, intended to reduce night-time noise over the suburbs. Under the program, pilots are asked to fly over unpopulated areas, such as expressways and forest preserves, between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. In addition, pilots are asked not to perform engine tests on runways during those hours. According to the city's Aviation Department, airlines are complying 90% of the time with the program between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 70% of the time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. However, the article goes on to say, residents have long suspected that the Fly Quiet program was the beginning of a long-range strategy by the airport and city to add more runways at O'Hare. In June, total O'Hare noise complaints doubled to 1,000, alghough night-time complaints fell slightly. The city has attributed the increase in complaints to the publicity surrounding the program, while suburbanites say the increase shows the program isn't working.

This summer also saw the settlement of a lawsuit regarding soundproofing, the article explains. The city created a program to soundproof homes in 1994, and soundproofing costs averaged about $38,000 per home in 1996. Soundproofing measures can include new windows and doors, attic and wall insulation, and central air conditioning. More than 600 homes have been soundproofed since 1995 in suburbs and unincorporated parts of Cook and DuPage counties. The city of Bensenville recently sued Chicago in federal court, claiming the city was avoiding soundproofing more homes in Bensenville and other DuPage County suburbs that had opposed expansion at the airport. The lawsuit was settled out of court in an agreement that will add 350 homes to the soundproofing list, including 63 in Bensenville.

Meanwhile, the article says, Illinois Governor Edgar vowed in his 1990 campaign to support the suburbs in their fight, and to work to prevent Chicago Mayor Daley from expanding the airport. In 1995, state officials tried to take control of O'Hare and Midway airports from the city by forming a regional airport operating authority, but the attempt failed. Gov. Edgar has been advocating a third airport at Peotone as an alternative to expanding O'Hare, the article reports. In spite of talk about expansion, however, the article says that airport plans for the next four years don't include more runways. In the past, Mayor Daley has said he wants to expand O'Hare to increase capacity and ease congestion.

The article concludes that every major airport in the nation has struggled with balancing quality of life for nearby residents with the ability to provide what air travelers want. The Federal Aviation Administration, the article notes, ranks noise as its number one environmental problem.

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Tests in San Francisco Movie Theaters Show that Some Movie Sound Levels Break 100 Decibels

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: August 10, 1997
BYLINE: Marilyn Chase
DATELINE: San Francisco, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Robert Sweetow, audiology director, University of California at San Francisco; Robert Schindler, hearing specialist and chair of otolaryngology department, University of California at San Francisco

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Robert Sweetow, audiology director at the University of California at San Francisco, has tested sound levels at San Francisco Bay Area theaters and found that the sound level of some movies exceed 100 decibels, the noise level generated by a jackhammer. Loud sound levels at movies have been encouraged by sophisticated audio technology which now allows soundtracks to be played at very loud levels without fuzziness or distortion, the article says. Unnecessarily loud preview trailers before movies are also an issue, and according to Barry Reardon, president of Warner's Distribution, an industry task force of movie companies and theater owners is trying to standardize and lower preview trailer volumes.

According to the article, Sweetow's tests found that sound levels can vary widely among movie theaters, depending on theater acoustics, audio equipment, and volume settings. However, he found that the movie "Batman & Robin" peaked at 112 decibels in one theater, while "Contact" hit 107 decibels at another theater. By comparison, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration limits exposure to noise in the workplace to 90 decibels for an eight-hour day, and permits higher levels for shorter periods of time. For example, 110 decibels is permitted for a half hour.

High sound levels in movie theaters can be potentially hazardous to hearing, the article reports. Such sound levels can produce headache, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or temporary shifts in hearing that could be signs of early hearing damage. In addition, high noise levels can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, the article says. Robert Schindler, a hearing specialist and chair of the otolaryngology department at the University of California at San Francisco said most movie-goers won't be hurt by volumes of 110 to 112 decibels, but said it is possible that some movie-goers would experience hearing damage. Sweetow added that at those levels, some people can experience temporary alterations in their hearing lasting minutes or days. In addition, he said, "Someone with a propensity to get tinnitus could get pushed over the edge." "Auditory problems are insidious," Sweetow added. "You don't realize when you're doing damage to your ears." For example, just a single loud rock concert can leave concert-goers with permanent tinnitus, and many frequent concert-goers now suffer high-frequency hearing loss, the article says.

Bill Jasper, president of Dolby Laboratories, explains that studios use loud sound levels to make movie-goers remember their movies. This is especially true of previews, Jasper said. "Studios want you to remember theirs," he said. "So there's a battle of the [preview] trailers." Bill Mead, vice president at Sony Cinema Products Corp., concedes that "everybody agrees" trailers should be toned down, "but nobody wants to be first to do it." Both Jasper and Mead say their companies offer technical services for movies, but don't dictate how loud feature movies are. Barry Reardon, president of Warner's Distribution, a unit of Warner Bros. Pictures, said volumes are largely determined by local projectionists, who don't always follow recommended volume levels.

Schindler at the University of California believes now that rock stars wear earplugs and personal stereos have volume warning labels, it's time for the entertainment industry to rate movies for sound intensity, the article reports. Sweetow recommends giving feedback to the movie theater operators when movies are too loud, in addition to wearing earplugs or leaving the theater.

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Airline Pilot Argues That Flight Test at California's Proposed El Toro Airport Wouldn't Work

PUBLICATION: Los Angeles Times
DATE: August 10, 1997
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 7; Metro Desk
BYLINE: George Mon, an airline captain from Laguna Niguel
DATELINE: Irvine, California area

The Los Angeles Times printed an editorial by George Mon, an airline captain from Laguna Niguel, California, regarding noise from the proposed conversion of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport. The writer argues that a plan to conduct flight tests to allow residents to assess the noise impact of a commercial airport would not work.

The article notes that there are several reasons that the tests would be inaccurate -- and thus to deceptive to residents -- if they are conducted as proposed. First, 2.5 of the 4 current runways -- including both departure runways -- will be rebuilt before any airport is built due to slope and separation requirements. So, using the current runway configuration is misleading. Secondly, airplanes will not be at the same weight or speed as actual planes would be, resulting in a different noise level. Third, flight paths will differ because of requirements for dealing with wake turbulence; pilots will never fly "straight in" as the tests will suggest. Fourth, the tests won't show how monotonous constant flights can be.

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Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Illegal in LA, But Debate Over Their Use Continues

PUBLICATION: Newsday (New York, NY)
DATE: August 10, 1997
SECTION: News; Page A35
BYLINE: Andrew Metz
DATELINE: Los Angeles, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Glenn Barr, deputy to City Councillor Cindy Miscikowski and former Councillor Marvin Braude

Newsday reports that an ordinance that went into effect on July 1 in Los Angeles, California bans the use of leaf blowers within 500 feet of homes. One week after the ordinance took effect, however, enforcement was postponed for six months at the urging of the Los Angeles Police Department. Meanwhile, the article reports, the debate over the use of leaf blowers continues, garnering both strong support and strong opposition.

The article reports that the leaf-blower ordinance is the outcome of an 11-year fight in Los Angeles. Although many cities in California and other states have prohibited or restricted blowers, the article says, the debate in Los Angeles has been the most pronounced and contentious in the country. Glenn Barr, deputy to one of the law's main proponents, City Councillor Cindy Miscikowski, and to its architect, former Councillor Marvin Braude, said, "I don't think we are simply looking at the effect in a city of 3.1 million people. There is a significant potential ripple effect in the state and the rest of the country."

Enforcement of the ordinance was delayed, the article reports, due to challenges faced by the police department. Cmdr. Art Lopez, who oversees the police force's small noise enforcement team, said, "There are some challenges to be overcome. But we aren't saying it can't be done." Questions discussed by the councillors and police officers have included: Would blowers be confiscated? Would employers and homeowners who sanctioned their use also be cited? Would warnings be issued? Would beat cops do the policing? According to Councillor Miscikowski, the council is setting up a committee to resolve these and other issues and possibly to expand the law.

The article goes on to say that proponents of the ordinance first lobbied against blowers' noise, but later added environmental and health hazards to their list of blower offenses. Many supporters of the ban in Councillor Miscikowski's District 11 lobbied for a total prohibition of leaf blowers, which under the current ordinance, can still be used in non-residential areas such as city streets and stadiums. Miscikowski said, "It really touched a nerve. The tranquility of our homes and our environment is really a health issue."

Meanwhile, the article says, gardeners have staged protests over the ordinance at City Hall. Steve Tsujiuchi, manager of Yamada Company, one of the largest leaf blower dealers in California, compared the ordinance to taking the circular saw away from the construction industry. Other gardeners agree. Gardener Raudell Salazar said gardeners have been using leaf blowers since the 1970s, when the first drought in Southern California occurred. Salazar added, "It cuts my work in half and it saves the homeowner a lot of money and water." Gardener Brian Yamasaki said he hopes the city will re-consider the ordinance and create a compromise, such as restricting noise levels from blowers or imposing time limits on when they can be used. Yamasaki added that the whole issue has left gardeners feeling like criminals. "Before, we were seen as hard-working people," he said. "Now we are seen as polluters."

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Aircraft Noise Debate Continues in Florida City

PUBLICATION: The Palm Beach Post
DATE: August 10, 1997
SECTION: Local, Pg. 1B
BYLINE: Scott Shifrel
DATELINE: Boca Raton, Florida
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Steve Abrams, City Councillor; Tom Knibbs, resident and member of the noise committee

The Palm Beach Post reports that complaints about aircraft noise have been increasing in variety, number, and ferocity in Boca Raton, Florida and surrounding communities. Recent debate has focused on the planned $1 million construction of an air-traffic control tower for the Boca Raton Airport next year, which opponents believe will attract more air traffic and noise. Meanwhile, a resident on a noise committee formed earlier this year said the committee has not been very effective so far.

According to the article, the Boca Raton Airport Authority, which is set to approve the air-traffic control tower, was created after residents complained about noise 15 years ago. Setting up the authority transferred power over the airport from a state to a local agency. Now, the article reports, residents are upset again and angry at the authority, which has leased land for an entertainment complex, and plans to lease land for a hotel and a restaurant. Money from the land deals is targeted for building the control tower, more hangars, a bigger gas station, and more office space.

Airport officials maintain that the control tower will improve safety, but nearby residents believe the tower will bring in more air traffic and noise. Mark Wantshouse, director of the company that leases most of the airport and services most of the planes, said the airport's growth simply reflects the city's growth, and that noise complaints are cyclical, depending on the economy and how many planes are flying.

But others disagree with Wantshouse's analysis, the article reports. City Councillor Steve Abrams said, "It's an escalating issue, not a cyclical issue. The complaints are getting more steady, the aircraft are getting louder." Opposition to the control tower this year has included 16 homeowner associations, the city council, and even some of the airport's pilots.

In response to the recent noise complaints, authority officials have posted signs urging pilots to avoid flying over homes, sent circulars to pilots, begun to carefully record noise complaints, and formed a noise abatement committee, according to authority director Nelson Rhodes. That committee is charged with finding better ways to cut noise and to respond to complaints, the article reports.

But at least one member of the committee, Tom Knibbs, a resident who lives under an airport flight path, said he doesn't think the committee has been very effective. He said the committee has addressed who can be on the committee, whom committee members can talk to, and what they can and cannot say to the press, the article says. "We're sitting around talking about the shape of the table," he said. "We're not talking about the issues."

Last month, the article reports, the committee did begin to discuss noise issues after noise opponents questioned the number of takeoffs and landings cited by airport officials -- 145,000 a year, or an average of 400 a day. Establishing the correct number is crucial, the article says, for determining whether a control tower is needed. Most opponents believe the number is too high.

The article goes on to say that the Boca Raton Airport has been a convenient place for small jets to land and take off, which is seen as important for the city's affluent residents, workers, and vacationers. The article points out that the commercial jets create the loud noise, while the majority of the planes using the airport are smaller ones.

Meanwhile, both Mark Wantshouse and pilot Dave Freudenberg said with a control tower, the airport would have its own radio frequency and could tell pilots which approach is the quietest. Wantshouse added that the airport is safe now, but a tower is needed to keep up with growth. He compared the addition of a tower to widening a highway.

But Tom Knibbs points out that a wider highway allows more cars on the road as well, the article reports.

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Chicago and Suburbs Argue Over Soundproofing for Multi-Family Dwellings

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: August 12, 1997
BYLINE: Heather Ryndak
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that officials from Chicago and nearby Bensenville are arguing with each other over who is responsible for excluding apartments and condominiums from the program to soundproof buildings against jet noise from O'Hare International Airport.

According to the article, officials from Bensenville claim that Chris Arman, an assistant Chicago aviation commissioner, told Bensenville residents who live in apartments and condos that their homes will not be soundproofed because Bensenville has not joined the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. But in fact, Bensenville officials claim, apartments and condos don't receive soundproofing because the city of Chicago has not set aside money to soundproof multi-family dwellings. Bensenville Mayor John Geils wrote in a letter to the aviation department, "We have had repeated complaints from homeowners in Bensenville that [Arman] has been providing them with false and misleading statements...but the failure to have more homes eligible comes from Chicago's self-imposed funding restrictions on the program." Earlier, Chicago aviation officials wrote to Bensenville officials after Bensenville officials would not let Arman speak to residents at a board meeting in July. The city's letter claimed that barring aviation officials from speaking violates a federal court settlement. But Geils wrote in response that he would not allow city officials who "continue to make false or inaccurate statements" to speak at meetings, the article reports.

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Landing Slots at Amsterdam Airport to be Apportioned by Independent Administrator

PUBLICATION: Financial Times (London)
DATE: August 16, 1997
SECTION: News: Europe; Pg. 02
BYLINE: Gordon Cramb
DATELINE: Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Financial Times (London) reports that Annemarie Jorritsma, the Netherlands Transport Minister, said she would seek clearance from Brussels to declare Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport a "co-ordinated airport," with landing slots apportioned by an independent administrator, in an attempt to address noise problems. If the regulation goes through, airlines would be forced to surrender some of their present scheduled times at the airport and would be allocated other times. The announcement comes the day after a ruling by a Haarlem court that the airport must rescind a ban on night flights by older, noisier jets in an attempt to not exceed legal noise limits.

According to the article, passage of the regulation would set a precedent in the European Union for imposing a restrictive system on environmental grounds alone. Both London's Heathrow Airport and Germany's Frankfurt Airport have the restrictive system due to shortages of runway space, but Schiphol has capacity to spare, the article says.

The article explains that Schiphol is the European Union's fourth largest airport and second largest cargo handling airport. Airport officials had set a ban to begin this month on night flights by older wide-body jets, such as the DC-10 and Boeing 747s predating the 400 series, and had said they would not accept new flights scheduled between 11 pm and 6 am no matter what the type of aircraft. The airport's move was an attempt to meet noise restrictions which came into force at the beginning of the year. However, the court upheld an injunction sought by Atan, an association grouping cargo operators, and by airlines including Martinair and El Al. The court ruled that only the Transport Minister had the power to impose restrictions of that nature. The ruling stated: "All parties agree that the most effective and obvious instrument to regulate air traffic noise in compliance with the demarcated noise zones consists of awarding Schiphol the status of fully co-ordinated airport."

However, the article says, the Transport Ministry left open the possibility that it might appeal the ruling, and said the law gave responsibility to the airport for the problem. Meanwhile, a coalition of Dutch environmental groups said they would take Jorritsma to court unless the noise limits were met this year, saying the ruling is not an excuse for not enforcing the legal noise limits.

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Public Hearing on Noise Plan at Indianapolis Airport is Delayed

PUBLICATION: The Indianapolis News
DATE: August 16, 1997
SECTION: Metro West; Pg. W01
BYLINE: Tim Evans and Jim Lamonte
DATELINE: Plainfield, Indiana

The Indianapolis News reports that the Indianapolis Airport Authority voted Friday to delay a public hearing on a noise mitigation plan for the airport by 30 days. The hearing was set for August 25, but the Plainfield Town Council sent a letter to the authority asking for a 90-day delay. In a related development, the Town of Plainfield decided this week to hire a consultant to study the noise plan for the town.

The article reports that Plainfield Town Council President Robin Brandgard sent a letter on August 5 to Indianapolis Airport Director David Roberts requesting the delay on the hearing. Brandgard said the city needed the postponement "to allow a serious and intelligent response to the issue that impacts many citizens." Brandgard also noted that the noise study was "detailed and technical," and that there was no way town officials could adequately analyze it in six weeks. In response to the Airport Authority's decision, Brandgard said town officials were glad to get at least a 30-day extension. "That will give us time to digest (the study findings) and develop a response," he added.

The article goes on to say that according to Dennis Rosebrough, public affairs director for the airport, the Airport Authority board received several requests to postpone the hearing. A press release from the Airport Authority stated: "The Airport Authority board postponed the hearing based on requests from Congressman Ed Pease, the Plainfield Town Council, Wayne Township Assessor Charles Spears, as well as several neighborhood groups. The requests were principally based on the need for additional time to review the lengthy and complex noise study documents."

The Plainfield Town Council voted this week to hire a Bloomington-based consultant to examine the massive noise study for the town, the article reports. The consultant is Willis Ziese, who worked for the FAA for 25 years and now operates a consulting business. According to Plainfield Town Attorney Mel Daniel, Ziese has expertise on FAA regulations, flight patterns around airports, and noise studies. He added that the consultant should complete his initial research by the end of this week, and give the town a preliminary reaction by August 25. The article notes the consultant will be paid $50 an hour plus expenses for his services.

The re-scheduled public hearing now will be held on Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Plainfield High School auditorium. Speakers will be allowed to speak for two minutes during the hearing -- to reserve a time to speak, call 487-5189.

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Cordless Lawn Mowers Cut the Noise and Offer Other Benefits

PUBLICATION: Sacramento Bee
DATE: August 16, 1997
SECTION: Cal Life; Pg. CL12
BYLINE: James Dulley

The Sacramento Bee printed a question-and-answer column regarding cordless lawn mowers. In response to a reader's question about the feasibility of buying and using a cordless mower, the columnist writes that for anyone with up to a half-acre lot, a cordless rechargeable lawn mower is the best option available for many reasons.

The columnist writes that he has used a cordless mower for three years at his own home, and it is very convenient. He says it recharges overnight, and to start it he simply pushes a button and it starts every time. In addition, he writes, cordless mowers use about $5 worth of electricity per year with normal weekly mowing,, and are a bargain to operate since they require no gasoline, oil, tune-ups, or spark plugs.

The columnist goes on to enumerate the benefits of cordless mowers. He says the quiet operation of the mowers are a great advantage -- you can talk on a cordless phone while mowing, or mow at any hour of day without annoying the neighbors. Storage of the mowers is another benefit, the writer says. Because there is no gasoline or oil to leak, the mowers can safely be stored inside, and some mowers have collapsible handles so they can be stored on end. But even the non-collabsible models take up only 1 1/2 square feet of floor space, he points out. Finally, cordless mowers produce much less pollution, the columnist says. A typical gasoline mower that runs for 30 minutes produces more pollution than driving a car 150 miles. In addition, he notes, some utility companies give rebates if you purchase a cordless mower.

The columnist explains that the most powerful cordless mowers have 24- or 36-volt motors, the same cutting power as a five-horsepower gasoline engine. He adds that this level of power is necessary for even cutting, especially when mulching. Cutting swaths on the mowers range 17 inches to 20 inches, and although the smaller models may advertise longer running times, the writer reminds readers that it takes more passes and time to cut a lawn with a smaller-swath mower. There is also a self-propelled cordless mower called the Mulchinator for hilly lots. The columnists says a one-lever, all-wheel adjustment is a great convenience feature, and some models feature a gauge or light to indicate the remaining battery charge.

In addition to cordless mowers, the writer points out that other cordless lawn tools such as leaf blowers and string and hedge trimmers, are also effective and inexpensive to use. Some new models are very powerful, such as the Vroom blower, which produces a 105-mph air stream but weighs only seven pounds.

To receive a bulletin by the writer on this issue (Update Bulletin No. 645), which includes a buyer's guide of cordless mowers, trimmers and blowers, power, cutting width/height range, run times, features, prices, grass selector, and lawn cutting tips, send $2 and a business-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope to James Dulley, Sacramento Bee, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

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United Airlines Will Install Passenger Noise Cancellation Devices in its Fleet

PUBLICATION: Airline Industry Information
DATE: August 15, 1997

Airline Industry Information reports that United Airlines has announced it will install passenger integrated noise cancelling electronics and active-ready headsets in its First and Connoisseur Class seats. Installation of the devices will begin in the Fall of 1997 on the airline's 767-300 and 747-400 fleets, and is expected to be completed on all three of the airline's fleets by early 1999, the article says.

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New Rules at Washington Air Force Base Should Reduce Noise

PUBLICATION: News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: Local/State; Pg. B2
BYLINE: Rob Carson
DATELINE: Tacoma, Washington area

The News Tribune reports that aircraft landings at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington should be quieter from now on, due to new minimum altitude requirements that go into effect today.

According to the article, the base is raising its visual flight pattern 300 feet, starting this morning, in an attempt to cut aircraft noise and to align its approach pattern with other bases. Mike Rechner, air space manager of McChord's 62nd Airlift Wing, said, "Three hundred feet may not seem like a lot more, but we hope it will be enough to eliminate some of our neighbors' noise concerns." Pilots will be required to fly approaches to McChord at least 1,500 feet above the ground under the new rule. Rechner added that the base makes other concessions to citizens' complaints about noise, such as banning training flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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Colorado Airport Board Votes to Keep a Ban on Heavy Jets

PUBLICATION: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: Local; Ed. F; Pg. 50A
BYLINE: Marlys Duran
DATELINE: Arapahoe County, Colorado
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Clark Upton, Greenwood Village Councillor

The Rocky Mountain News reports that the Centennial Airport Board in Arapahoe County, Colorado voted Thursday to refuse to open the airport's runways to large corporate jets, giving a victory to opponents of airport expansion and of increased noise pollution. However, the article says, the board hedged on whether it will permit so-called through-the-fence cargo operations, which opponents fear will encourage more noisy cargo flights into the airport. The board had postponed its decisions until Thursday after several hundred people packed a hearing room June 19 to oppose the measures, the article says.

According to the article, the board voted unanimously to continue the ban on planes weighing more than 75,000 pounds at takeoff. The airport's two fixed-base operators requested that the weight limit be lifted so they could use two new long-range jets, the Gulfstream G-V and Canadair's Global Express. However, the article says, opponents claimed that lifting the weight limit also would allow older aircraft to land that aren't as quiet as the newer planes. Paul House, line services manager for AMR Combs at Centennial, said the board's rejection was disappointing, but the company likely would use Denver International Airport instead.

The board also threw out a policy statement encouraging through-the-fence operations, which permit planes to land at Centennial, then taxi off the airport to unload cargo, the article reports. The board's vote didn't ban through-the-fence operations, but it's "a step in that direction," according to Airport Commissioner John Brackney. He said the board's vote "sends a clear signal . . . that there has been a change of policy." Two firms have had discussed starting such operations with Centennial officials, but haven't filed formal applications yet, the article says. Commissioner Marie Mackenzie said banning such operations now would be unfair to those firms.

Meanwhile, opponents praised the board's decisions, but said they didn't go far enough. Greenwood Village Councillor Clark Upton, an opponent of expanded operations at Centennial, said he had hoped the board would ban through-the-fence operations, because such operations would encourage even more cargo flights into the airport. Centennial is already the nation's second-busiest general aviation airport, he pointed out. "People around here are very dead-set against any increase in noise," Upton said. "They actually would like a decrease in noise."

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California State Senator Lobbies to Strenghten State Law on Airport Noise

PUBLICATION: The San Francisco Chronicle
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. A19
BYLINE: Benjamin Pimentel
DATELINE: San Mateo, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Quentin Kopp, State Senator; Jackie Landsman, chief of staff for Kopp; Eileen Larsen, mayor, Foster City

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Calfornia State Senator Quentin Kopp plans to introduce legislation that will give the state more power to minimize noise at airports. Kopp said at a public hearing in San Mateo yesterday that noise from increased air traffic at San Francisco International Airport is becoming a bigger problem for San Mateo County residents.

According to the article, Jackie Landsman, chief of staff for Kopp, said the senator's planned legislation would include requiring the California Department of Transportation to inform communities affected by airport noise about changes in an airport's flight patterns. In addition, it would require the agency to impose penalties if state noise regulations are not being met. According to state law, airports must keep noise in surrounding communities at 65 decibels averaged over 24 hours, with heavier weight given to noise in the evening and late at night. (The article notes that sixty-five decibels is the same level as a face-to-face conversation.) However, several airports including San Francisco's have been exempted from some rules because of safety considerations, making many residents unhappy, the article says. Kopp said at the hearing that he believes the state noise standards are obsolete, and that the San Francisco Airport's noise-monitoring equipment may be outdated.

Meanwhile, some members of the Airport Community Roundtable which monitors airport noise welcomed Kopp's ideas. Eileen Larsen, mayor of Foster City, said Kopp's initiative could give the Roundtable more clout in dealing with the airport. The article notes that the Roundtable is comprised of representatives from San Francisco and nine other cities, but does not have executive powers. Larsen said, "The Airport Community Roundtable is a wonderful organization but it has as much political clout as a PTA. It's a discussion group. The noise is continuing and continuing and continuing."

However, the article says, other members of the Roundtable said Kopp's initiative is redundant and potentially divisive. Chris Pallas, who represents San Bruno, said the group has a good working relationship with the airport and is doing its job well. John Martin, director of the San Francisco Airport, said he has no problem with Kopp's efforts, but he disagrees with Kopp's assessment of the airport's noise-monitoring system.

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Florida Library Patrons Disturbed by Noise from Kids in the Children's Section

PUBLICATION: St. Petersburg Times
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: Clearwater Times; Pg. 1
BYLINE: Anita Kumar
DATELINE: Clearwater, Florida

The St. Petersburg Times reports that patrons of the Countryside library branch in Clearwater, Florida have complained about children's voices carrying through the building ever since the library opened nine years ago. The children's section is not separated from the rest of the library in a separate room, and proposals for an addition to the library to solve the problem have met with funding limitations, the article explains.

According to the article, librarian Lois Maroon said library officials have "toyed with all sorts of changes," to solve the noise problem, but she doesn't believe the problem could ever be completely solved unless the children's section were physically separated from the rest of the library. Last fall, extra insulation was added to the library, which reduced some noise, the article says. But the issue became more prominent this year again after the new city manager visited the library and commented about the small children's section.

Arlita Hallam, director of the Clearwater library system, said no money is budgeted for an addition to the library, but she may ask the city to spend sales tax revenue on renovations. An addition would cost between $500,000 to $600,000, Hallam estimated, and would require an additional $30,000 to hire a second librarian for the children's section. The article notes that the Countryside library branch has the highest circulation rate and more children as patrons than any other city branch.

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Florida Airport Offers Money to Construction Firm to Speed Runway Reconstruction

PUBLICATION: St. Petersburg Times
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: City & State; Pg. 8B
BYLINE: Charles Hoskinson
DATELINE: Tampa, Florida

The St. Petersburg Times reports that the Hillsborough County (Florida) Aviation Authority decided Thursday to reward the contractor of a runway reconstruction job at Tampa International Airport up to $4,000 per day for every day shaved off the project's completion deadline of October 28. Authority officials offered the incentive to encourage quicker completion of the project, which has brought noise complaints, weight restrictions on cargo planes, and delays for airport passengers.

The article reports that the 11,000-foot main runway is due to be out of service for nearly four months during its $9.7 million reconstruction. The runway usually handles 75% of the jet traffic, but during the reconstruction, planes have been using a shorter, 8,300-foot runway, which effectively restricts cargo planes to lighter loads and delays passenger jets in bad weather. The change also sends more air traffic and more noise over the Carrollwood, Drew Park, Palma Ceia, and Beach Park neighborhoods, the article says.

The authority voted to pay contractor John Carlo Inc. $4,000 for every day the runway is available between October 1 and October 28, and $2,000 for every day before October 1, according to Louis Miller, aviation authority executive director. In addition, the article says, the contractor will pay a $4,000 penalty for each day construction continues past October 28. Miller said an early end to the project would easily justify the cost, especially in terms of fewer noise complaints. The airport normally receives only two or three noise complaints per month, but has been receiving that many per week while the project has been going on, Miller said.

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Restrictions on Air Tours at National Parks Receives Attention in Utah

PUBLICATION: The Washington Post
DATE: August 15, 1997
SECTION: Financial; Pg. D01
BYLINE: Cindy Skrzycki
DATELINE: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Tom Robinson, director of conservation policy, Grand Canyon Trust; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

The Washington Post reports that one of the hottest controveries at Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park and other national parks is the pending federal regulations of air tours over the parks. Past and current attempts to limit air tours over the Grand Canyon will play a part in determining what regulations are formed for all national parks, the article says. The controversy has pitted backpackers, environmentalists, and some park superintendents against the air tour industry.

The article says that according to Fred Fagergren, park superintendent at Bryce, he hears more complaints about helicopter noise over the park than any other single thing. "There is nothing to impair what you hear or see here," he said. "We're at the top of Colorado Plateau, and we have some of the greatest vistas in North America." He said the biggest problem with flights in the park is one air tour operator who flies too close to the canyon rim or below it. He added that bungee jumpers recently jumped out of a helicopter and into the scenic canyon for a television commercial. The Federal Aviation Administration has control over tour operators, so Fagergren said he can do nothing to limit flights over the canyon.

According to the article, supporters of stricter regulations hope that restrictions will prevent air tours from reaching the scale at most national parks that has already been reached at the Grand Canyon, where there were about 95,000 air tour flights last year. Attempts to limit flights at the Grand Canyon started a decade ago, and since then, there has been tension between the Interior Department -- which wants a role in approving flight management plans for national parks -- and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which promotes aviation but also regulates air safety. The National Park Service (a division of the Interior Department) may soon get more power in regulating air tours either through legislation or a working group assembled by the Clinton administration. The National Park Overflights Working Group are set to make recommendations this fall on rules for reducing or preventing adverse effects of "overflights," the article reports. In addition, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has introduced legislation that would give the Interior Department the power to recommend flight restrictions, and would limit the FAA's role to safety issues.

Meanwhile, the FAA recently has attempted to set regulations for the Grand Canyon that call for a cap on the number of aircraft that can fly over the canyon, morning and evening curfews, more flight-free zones, and a phase-out of noisier aircraft. However, the article says, the restrictions are being challenged in court by every party affected. In addition, the air tour industry is suing the FAA for imposing a temporary ban on flights over Rocky Mountain National Park. The article reports that FAA officials insist they are working more closely with the Park Service.

Reactions among air tour industry officials to the controversy range from strong opposition to mild worry. Bonnie Lindgren, operations manager for Redtail Aviation Inc. in Moab, Utah, which flies over Bryce and other Arizona and Utah landmarks, said she's sorry the industry faces "this level of regulation." But Steve Bassett, president of the U.S. Air Tour Association, said, "We are likely to get a reasonable regulatory recommendation that will adequately address air tours over national parks. Both sides have agreed that each has a right to exist."

Meanwhile, Tom Robinson, director of conservation policy for the Grand Canyon Trust, said he is skeptical that quiet will every reign in national parks. "They [the FAA] are 10 years late, and the final rule still doesn't do it," he said.

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