Noise News for Week of July 27, 1997

Texas Town Considers Buying Small Airport; Neighbors Worried About Noise Oppose the Purchase

PUBLICATION: The Houston Chronicle
DATE: July 27, 1997
SECTION: A; Pg. 29
BYLINE: Steve Olafson
DATELINE: Pearland, Texas

The Houston Chronicle reports that the city of Pearland, Texas is considering whether to buy a 400-acre airport, Clover Field, located about three miles south of Pearland and two miles west of Friendswood. The issue has pitted residents near Clover Field and citizens who want to maintain the area's small-town character against those who favor change and increased business activity in the area.

The article reports that Clover Field has a name that fits. The airfield has three grass runways, and the feel of a sleepy, country airport, the article says. But about once a month, according to nearby neighbors, a small jet will take off or land on the airport's single asphalt runway, reminding residents of how their lives could change if more planes used the airport. Ruth Mann, who lives next to the airport, said when the occasional jet takes off, her family's double-pane windows shake and rattle. Mann and other neighbors are not happy to contemplate what might happen if the city decides to buy the airport -- they envision a busy corporate airport with jets passing by every 20 or 30 minutes and shattering the quiet country atmosphere.

The article goes on to say that since the city has been considering buying the airport, the City Council has received a stack of letters from people on both sides of the issue. The controversy is a symptom of the changes Pearland is undergoing, the article says. The population has grown from 19,000 in 1990 to 34,000 today, and some 1,100 housing starts are recorded each month. As a result of the growth, city officials have been trying to attract new businesses to increase the tax base, and many believe a municipal airport would be an added attraction. However, opponents of the airport purchase say the city should not buy a rundown airport that will require millions of dollars to upgrade to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards. In addition, opponents believe there is no need for an airport with Hobby Airport and Ellington Field a short distance away.

The article reports that Bill Flanagan of the FAA confirmed that "there is a fair amount of work that needs to be done to bring it up to FAA standards." The FAA would provide funding for 90% of the eligible improvements to the airport, the article says, but the city would have to pay for work in areas such as parking lots and hangars. Under FAA guidelines, revenue generated at the airport would have to be spent at the airport, and the city would have to make a long-term commitment to operate the facility or return any of the federal agency's money that is spent.

According to the article, Perry Brown, the owner of Clover Field, has been trying to sell it for some time. Brown opened the airport 56 years ago, and said it's a profitable enterprise. He dismissed the concerns of the neighbors, saying they are opponents of progress. The article goes on to note that the city council voted against purchasing the airport in 1991, as did the cities of Friendswood and Alvin. But Pearland City Manager Paul Grohman revived the issue recently. He said that airport neighbors are needlessly worried about increased jet traffic because "a lot of the small jets today are quieter than the small planes flying out of there now." To that comment, resident Dianne Robin, who lives about a half-mile from the airport, answered, "That may be true for the new-technology jets, but how many of those do you think are going to be landing at Clover Field?"

The article concludes that the city has already spent $16,000 on an environmental assessment of the property, and the next step is to decide whether to spend $60,000 for an appraisal of the airport. That decision is likely to occur at the council's Monday meeting, the article says. If rejected, the issue will be dropped, which is what opponents are hoping for, the article says.

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Florida County Commission to Vote on New Noise Ordinance

PUBLICATION: The Tampa Tribune
DATE: July 29, 1997
SECTION: Pasco, Pg. 1
BYLINE: Mathew Horridge
DATELINE: New Port Richey, Florida

The Tampa Tribune reports that Florida's Pasco County Commission is expected to make a decision today on a new noise ordinance that would allow sheriff's deputies to ticket noise violators without using a sound meter.

According to the article, the commission gave preliminary approval to the ordinance in June, but postponed a final hearing on it so County Attorney Karla Stetter could review it again. Stetter said she wanted an ordinance that will not only help neighborhoods deal with noise polluters, but also will stand up in court.

The article says the proposed ordinance sets noise limits for violators throughout the day. The ordinance is least restriction from 7 am to 6 pm, allows less noise between 6 pm and 10 pm, and is most restrictive between 10 pm to 7 am. The current ordinance only covers noise problems at night, and stipulates that sheriff's deputies or code enforcement officers stand at a person's property line and take readings with a noise meter before giving tickets. Enforcement of the current ordinance has been a problem, the article reports, because county code enforcement officers don't work at night and noise meters aren't standard equipment for sheriff's cruisers. The new ordinance allows deputies to write a ticket for noise violation without a sound meter if someone is being loud enough to "disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighborhood."

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Connecticut City Considers Restricting Ice Cream Truck Music After Resident Complaints

PUBLICATION: The Hartford Courant
DATE: July 30, 1997
SECTION: Metro Hartford; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Rosalinda DeJesus
DATELINE: Hartford, Connecticut
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Alyssa Peterson, activist; Epifania Robles, resident

The Hartford Courant reports that about 40 residents who attended a neighborhood meeting Tuesday in Hartford, Connecticut to talk about neighborhood problems agreed to propose that the city pass an ordinance that would prohibit ice cream truck vendors from selling their goods after 9 p.m. and would require vendors to reduce the noise level of their bells and songs. The meeting was sponsored by Hartford Areas Rally Together, the article says.

According to the article, there was much support for the idea of an ordinance at the meeting. Alyssa Peterson, an activist who works on Arbor Street, said the trucks' music is annoying and makes it difficult for her to conduct serious business over the phone while the music is playing. She proposed that the vendors use manual bells instead of recorded songs. State Rep. Art Feltman suggested the city prohibit vendors from selling their snacks after 8 p.m., the article says, since the city curfew is 9 p.m. An Arnold Street resident, Epifania Robles, said the noise from the trucks is not only irritating, but the result of their visits is litter in her front yard. Police Chief Joseph Croughwell said his department already had asked vendors to reduce their noise levels, and they had been cooperative, but he still believed an ordinance would be a good idea. "I think it's an education thing," Croughwell said. "I think we can make [vendors] aware of the fact that the community perceives a serious problem."

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Indiana Man Enraged at Noisy Teen-Agers Charged for Firing a Gun

PUBLICATION: The Indianapolis News
DATE: July 29, 1997
SECTION: Metro South; Pg. S02
BYLINE: Paul Bird
DATELINE: Greenwood, Indiana

The Indianapolis News reports that a man in Greenwood, Indiana has been arrested for firing a .45-caliber handgun into the ground after becoming enraged that teen-agers were using a hydraulic system to bounce a car through his neighborhood. The man told sheriff's deputies that he "just snapped."

According to the article, Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Rogier arrested Stephen Kindred of Woodmere Court on preliminary charges of criminal recklessness with a weapon. Deputy Rogier responded to a report of a shot fired on Peterman Road at around 4 pm Sunday. He spoke with three teen-agers when he arrived, who told him they had been raising and lowering the front and rear of a car with a hydraulic system in the Woodmere subdivision. They said a man came running out of a house screaming at them, and as they drove away, the man fired a shot at them. Deputy Rogier then confronted Kindred, who, according to the police report, said, "the boys drive recklessly all the time, and he was sick of it, so he got his .45 out and yelled at them to get out of here, and he fired a shot into the ground." Kindred was arrested and his gun was confiscated, and he was later released after posting $3,000 bond.

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Grand Canyon Air Tour Operators Refuse to Pay Park Service Fees, Landing Them in Court

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic
DATE: July 28, 1997
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion; Pg. B4
DATELINE: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Arizona Republic printed an editorial about the refusal of some air tour operators in Grand Canyon National Park to pay Park Service fees. Now, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona has filed the first of what may be several lawsuits against air tour operators to collect the fees. The editorial compares the situation to a tenant not paying rent, and says the air tour operators should be "evicted" if they don't pay.

According to the editorial, all users of the Grand Canyon pay user fees to the Park Service, including drivers, bus riders, rafters, cyclists, and backpackers, and many of these groups have recently seen their fees rise. The editorial argues it is only fair that air tour operators, who make a living flying tourists over the Canyon, should also have to pay. However, some air tour operators believe the Park Service has no authority over them because they answer only to the Federal Aviation Administration. In 1987, Congress rejected that idea when it authorized the Park Service to write a plan to limit noise over the Canyon. In 1993, Congress specifically authorized the Park Service to collect fees from the air tour operators. But collecting the fees has been difficult, the editorial says. Until May of this year, air tour operators didn't have to report their activities to the Park Service, so some paid the fees and some didn't.

The editorial goes on to argue that the air tour operators who didn't pay were cheating the American public, who owns the national park. Arizona Sen. John McCain pointed out they also were getting an unfair advantage over businesses that obey the law, and he urged the Justice Department to "take all appropriate action" to collect the rent. Last week, U.S. Attorney Janet Napolitano's office filed a lawsuit against Air Grand Canyon, which paid the fees from March 1994 to January 1995, and then stopped paying. According to the company's attorney, the legislation and fees were improperly enacted. Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's Office is contemplating more lawsuits. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Bales said his office has the names of three more air tour operators who owe fees, and if they are not paid soon, they also will be the subjects of lawsuits.

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New Invention in Britain Could Silence Outdoor Noise

DATE: July 29, 1997
SECTION: Home news
BYLINE: Paul Wilkinson
DATELINE: United Kingdom

The London Times reports that a British inventor, Selwyn Wright of Huddersfield University, said he has produced a device capable of blocking outdoor noise.

According to the article, the device is called an Electronic Controlled Acoustic Shadow System, and has already proved successful at blocking single frequency noise, such as that from a generator. The system works by using a computer to generate the same noise as the noise-maker, but with reversed sound waves, the article says, canceling out the two noises. Inventor Wright's system consists of a computer, eight loudspeakers, and eight microphones. Wright said, "The theory has been around for many years but until recently the necessary computer technology was not available. People have concentrated on enclosed spaces, originally in the United States, on reducing noise from hotel air-conditioning units. Then they moved on to larger spaces such as aircraft or cars. Ours is the only project capable of use outdoors, working over long distances."

The article reports that the system was developed partly with a 28,000-pound grant from EA Technology, the research wing of the power distribution companies. Yorkshire Electricity now will commission engineers to build the device, the first of which is expected to be ready in three years for use to counteract noise from Yorkshire Electricity's sub-stations.

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Two U2 Concerts Banned in Ireland Due to Neighbors' Noise Concerns

PUBLICATION: International Herald Tribune
DATE: July 30, 1997
SECTION: Feature; Pg. 20
BYLINE: International Herald Tribune
DATELINE: Dublin, Ireland

The International Herald Tribune reports that two sold-out homecoming concerts by the Irish rock group U2, scheduled to be held in Dublin, Ireland at the Lansdowne Road rugby stadium, have been banned by the High Court because of residents' concern over noise, according to reports in Irish newspapers on Tuesday. Residents living near the stadium told the court that the Irish Rugby Football Union had no legal right to subject them to loud and persistent noise, the article reports.

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Charter Airlines Threaten Price Increase if Nighttime Flight Restrictions Imposed at Amsterdam Airport

PUBLICATION: ANP English News Bulletin
DATE: July 29, 1997
DATELINE: Amsterdam, Netherlands

The ANP English News Bulletin reports that charter airline companies have said fares may rise 30%-40% if nighttime noise restrictions are imposed at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The airport has proposed to limit nighttime flights starting August 1 in order to avoid exceeding the country's noise pollution limits.

According to the article, a spokesperson for Martinair, after talks with other charter companies including Transavia and Air Holland, said that the proposed restrictions would severely curtail productivity and would result in increased costs that would be passed on to consumers. The spokesperson also said any fare increases could not occur before next April due to contracts between charter carriers and travel agents. Earlier, Martinair officials claimed that tens of thousands of vacationers could be left stranded or could face long delays if the rules are imposed.

The article notes that the proposed ban on nighttime takeoffs by noisy, wide-body planes between 11 pm and 6 am would affect intercontinental freight traffic and charter airlines the most, because they operate most of the nighttime flights. The airport's proposed rules also include the quick introduction of a slot allocation system, which would give the power of granting take-off permits to an independent body.

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Pennsylvania Residents Fear Possible Sale of Airport to County

PUBLICATION: The Morning Call
DATE: July 27, 1997
SECTION: Local/Region, Pg. B1
BYLINE: Frank Devlin
DATELINE: Whitpain, Pennsylvania area
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Walter Gerber, Whitpain Township resident; George Schoener, Whitpain resident

The Morning Call reports that residents in the Whitpain, Pennsylvania area are strongly opposing the possible purchase of Wings Field by the Montgomery County Airport Authority, which is studying the issue. If purchased, the airport's runway would be lengthened, and residents fear this will bring more air traffic to the area. Meanwhile, various members of the recently created airport authority have defended accusations that they have conflicts of interest, and two members have resigned.

The article reports that the airport authority was appointed by county commissioners in February to explore the possible purchase of Wings Field. The commissioners have made the preservation of open space a priority, and became interested in the private airfield in 1995, when they learned it was for sale and was attractive to developers. Purchasing the 217-acre property would cost an estimated $10 million, while expanding its runway would cost an estimated $3.5 million. Commissioners have said that most of the money would come from the state and the Federal Aviation Administration grants.

However, the article says, airport neighbors already are unhappy with the noise level at Wings Field. They claim that the helicopters and small planes frequently fly directly over their homes. The neighbors have said repeatedly at meetings of the county commission and airport authority that they fear a county takeover even more.

At a meeting held Wednesday night in Whitpain, the airport authority co-chair Drew Lewis told about 300 residents that jets wouldn't be able to use the airport if the runway is extended from 2,625 feet to 3,700 feet. He said the longer runway would simply give pilots more ability to maneuver and allow for a greater margin of error. Lewis also argued that an airport authority would be a better owner for the airfield, because it would be more responsive to residents than a private owner. Other officials have said that with airport authority ownership, residents will have a voice in the airport's operating hours, noise regulations and flight patterns, and the land won't fall into the hands of a developer, which means less homes, less traffic, and lower school tax payments.

However, airport neighbors said that the county's hidden motive in buying the airport is to preserve the field to aid wealthy private pilots and businesses that use the airport, such as Merck and US Healthcare. George Schoener, an attorney from Whitpain, said, "It has nothing at all to do with safety. It has nothing at all to do with giving control to the community." Other residents express fear that lengthening the runway will eventually result in jet traffic. Walter Gerber, a Whitpain Township resident, said, "If we build it, the planes will come. And they will be bigger, and there will be more of them." Gerber insisted that even if the authority promises the runway is being extended for safety, human nature will eventually dictate taking advantage of the increased capacity.

The article goes on to report that before Wednesday's meeting, opponents had accused authority members Lewis and James Danella of having conflicts of interest, because they were both members of a partnership of airport users that paid $1.4 million as a down payment on the property in 1995. Resident George Schoener said that if the county purchased the airport, Lewis, for example, would not lose his $50,000 share in the partnership, called Wings Field Preservation Associates. In response to those accusations, Lewis on Wednesday night announced he had divested of his share in the partnership, and Danella, a Plymouth Township developer, resigned from the authority. However, even this did not satisfy the residents, the article says. One said Lewis would still have "some feeling" for the partnership that could affect his actions as the authority's co-chair. Another audience member said that Danella might have gotten "inside information" by being on the authority that he can now use to benefit the partnership. Neither Lewis nor Danella answered those criticisms, the article says. County Commissioner Richard Buckman last week said the partnership had raised money as a "stopgap" to keep the airport from being sold to developers, and he didn't see how the members of the partnership could profit by allowing a deal to go forward between the airport authority and the owner. However, he said, to avoid the appearance of a conflict, he believed information about the partnership should be made public.

Meanwhile, Leigh Narducci, the Whitpain Supervisors Chair and a former airport authority member, has criticized both sides in the dispute, the article says. Narducci said he resigned from the authority because its stated goal was to secure federal money and then step aside and let an authority with many members from Whitpain and Plymouth run it. Instead, the authority started talking about how to run the airport after it was acquired, with only one voting member from the two townships on the board. Narducci added that if county commissioners had appointed more representatives from Whitpain and Plymouth townships, it would have "gone a long way" toward convincing residents of the authority's position. At Wednesday's meeting, the authority addressed this issue by voting to add one member each from Whitpain and Plymouth.

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Dutch Government Will Decide Next Week Whether to Impose Nighttime Flight Restrictions at Amsterdam Airport, Delaying the Target Implementation Date

PUBLICATION: Business Times
DATE: July 30, 1997
SECTION: Shipping Times; Pg. 18
BYLINE: Yong Mei Fong
DATELINE: Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Business Times reports that officials at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands will announce early next week if they will proceed with plans announced earlier to ban certain night flights and restrict others in order to meet the country's noise regulations. The airport's new rules were set to take effect August 1, but the government, which must approve the rules, currently is studying the issue. Meanwhile, airlines whose operations would be limited by the rules have raised strong protests and some reportedly have threatened to sue the airport, saying the restrictions would violate aviation treaties such as the open-skies agreements.

According to the article, airport officials had decided to ban take-offs of the noiser Chapter 2 aircraft and the Boeing 747-100, -200, -300 and DC-10 aircraft between 11 pm and 6 am. In addition, the new rules stipulated that airlines must cut in half their number of take-offs between those hours. According to the airport's press officer, Mariona van der Goot, the Ministry of Transport currently is studying the proposed regulations, and will make a firm decision on August 5 on whether to implement the plan. Van der Goot went on to say that the plan to cut night flights was not a permanent solution for the airport's noise problem, but only a plan to keep noise levels within legal limits for this year. If the airport grows, which is expected, the same problems would re-surface, the article says. Airport officials also are working on a long-term solution that they hope to implement soon, involving a time-slot coordination program. The article says that it is understood air carriers have asked the airport to implement the time-slot system by November 1, but van der Goot said the airport needs a solution for the noise problem between now and November, which the proposed regulations would provide.

The article reports that if the rules are implemented, they will impact air freight carriers the hardest because such carriers typically use more older, noisier aircraft. Gert-Jan Hermelink, the airport's deputy director of cargo, said the new rules will eliminate some of the airport's cargo traffic this year and perhaps next year, and would give added business to other airports, including airports in London, Frankfurt, and Paris. However, he added, "It is always very difficult to predict how flexible the carriers will be. The industry has always shown very creative minds and I hope they will find new possibilities to fit the schedules given."

Meanwhile, the article says, the airport and the government are looking into expansion plans, as the airport is expected to hit full capacity by 2003 or 2004. Currently, three expansion plans are being considered, one of which would involve the construction on a man-made island in the North Sea, 10 km from the coast, the article concludes.

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Boise Considers Ordinance to Control Barking Dogs

PUBLICATION: The Idaho Statesman
DATE: July 28, 1997
SECTION: National ; Pg. 1a
BYLINE: Martin Johncox
DATELINE: Boise, Idaho

The Idaho Statesman reports that city attorneys in Boise, Idaho are drafting an extension of the city's new noise ordinance that would include measures to control barking dogs.

According to the article, city attorneys and officials are thinking of modeling the ordinance after a Honolulu law that allows an officer to ticket a dog owner if the dog has been barking continuously for five minutes. The current ordinance requires a resident to sign a complaint if a dog is bothering them before an officer can issue a violation. However, according to Deputy City Attorney Bill Nary, city officials want to create an ordinance which would allow an officer to issue a citation based on the officer's observation. Earlier this spring, several residents testified that the city should include barking dogs in its noise ordinance.

The article goes on to say that the Idaho Humane Society is in charge of policing barking dogs for Boise, and gets about 40-50 complaints per week. Dee Fugit, a spokesperson for the Humane Society, said, "Dogs that are bored and lonely and left outside without any human contact will bark for attention." The Society responds to complaints when it is open, 7 am to 6 pm, seven days a week. Owning a barking dog is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of $300 and six months in jail, but officials don't know of anyone having received that sentence. No fines have yet been suggested for the new ordinance, the article says, but the penalty for other types of noise pollution in Boise is a $100 fine.

Meanwhile, some dog owners insisted that they are not always responsible for their dog's barking. Julie Rice, whose pets are an Old English Sheepdog and an Akita, said, "We live right on the Greenbelt, and we have a lot of people walking past, and that's what gets our dogs jazzed up. She added, "I don't know how they could monitor something like that or prove it."

The article concludes that there will be a meeting to discuss the dog-barking ordinance on August 21 at 6 pm in the Bonneville Room on the third floor of Boise City Hall.

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British Residents Campaign for Quiet Roads

PUBLICATION: The Northern Echo (England)
DATE: July 29, 1997
BYLINE: Nigel Burton
DATELINE: North-East, England

The Northern Echo of England reports that thousands of North-East families are faced with a summer noise nightmare due to road maintenance neglect. But financially strapped officials say they are battling just to keep the region's roads patched up, and they don't have any money over for "extras" like quiet materials, according to an AA report.

According to the article, many people can't even open the windows of their homes on a summer's day because the noise from cheaply-surfaced or poorly screened roads is unbearable. According to a recent survey, more than half the region's homes are being exposed to unacceptable daytime noise pollution. Bert Morris, the AA's policy manager, said: "More than 80 million people across Europe are exposed to continuous day-time noise levels of 65 decibels or more. Of the noise, he says, "The principal cause is road transport and, with more and more vehicles on the road, the problem will continue unless further measures are taken."

The article says although advancements in engine and exhaust technology have decreased the noise made by heavy trucks, more can still be done. Porous asphalt and "whisper concrete" are more expensive to use but generate far less noise. Earth mounds, wooden fences, concrete, steel or aluminum walls and acrylic sheeting can all help to muffle road roar. The AA has called on local authorities to subject major roads in the region, including the A1(M), to a full noise assessment by using sophisticated measuring equipment. Noise activists want to see local transport authorities follow the example set by Holland, where 40 per cent of all roads are now surfaced with quiet materials. However, Denise Thorley, the AA's North-East spokeswoman, acknowledged: "A quieter environment will be expensive to achieve."

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Chicago Has Soundproofed 600 Suburban Homes to Compensate for Jet Noise

PUBLICATION: Governing Magazine
DATE: August 1997
SECTION: Infrastructure Briefing;Pg. 44
BYLINE: Misty Allen
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: John Geils, mayor of Bensenville and chair of a local anti-noise group

Governing Magazine reports that Chicago officials have soundproofed more than 600 homes in an effort to satisy homeowners disturbed by jet noise from O'Hare International Airport.

The article says that the city's Department of Aviation has spent an average of $27,500 per residence during the past year to install double-paned windows, thick doors, and dense attic insulation into homes. The city plans to spend a total of $81 million by 1999 to soundproof 3,000 homes, the article reports. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley pushed for the soundproofing program, the article says, to promote better relations between the city and the suburbs.

Many of the mayor's suburban opponents, however, believe the soundproofing effort could be an attempt to get political support for eventual airport expansion. John Geils, chair of a local anti-noise group and mayor of Bensenville, said the soundproofing effort is a ploy to build more runways, the article reports.

Rita Athas, one of Daley's advisers, responded that the mayor has no ulterior motives, and pointed to his establishment of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, a board which has suburban representatives and which will approve or reject any possible airport expansions.

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