PUBLICATION: Airline Business
DATE: June 1997
SECTION: No. 6, Vol. 13; Pg. 84; ISSN: 0268-7615
BYLINE: Doug Cameron
Airline Business reports in an editorial that the failure of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to agree on a transition to Chapter IV noise standards is leading to a patchwork of policy making around the world on aircraft noise. The diverse policies will force airlines to face operational restraints, the editorial concludes.
The editorial says that aircraft noise is coming back into the mainstream aeropolitical agenda, after a period of relative quiet. A patchwork of regulations has already emerged, especially in Europe, where officials in some countries are frustrated at the slow progress toward an international agreement. The editorial says that the failure of ICAO to reach an agreement on phasing-in Chapter IV aircraft, the next generation of quieter jets, is blamed for the fragmentation now occuring in policy approaches. ICAO's Committee on Environmental Protection (CAEP) was split during its vote last year about whether to introduce a new Chapter IV noise standard 4 decibels below Chapter III limits. (The committee was also considering imposing a 20% reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions.) The split vote led to a compromise proposal later in the year which also failed, and as a result, noise was removed from the working agendy of the CAEP for 1996-97. The main opposition to the proposals, the editorial says, came from the U.S. and Russia. Dave Tompkins, head of air services policy at the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority and of the European Civil Aviation Conference environmental working group, said, "The argument is that the [eventual] new standard will be more stringent than if we set one now. The question is how long we can wait."
The editorial claims that three important decisions likely to emerge towards the end of 1997 in Europe will set the pattern for future regulatory developments. The most closely watched decision, the editorial says, will be the final outcome of the U.K. Department of Transport's attempts to increase the stringency of noise regulations and the efficiency of monitoring at the three main London airports -- Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forced the U.K. to back down in April from its plans to introduce tough new noise rules, but this state of affairs could change as a new round of consultations is planned later in the year. The other two upcoming decisions are the planned new noise standards from the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and the European Commission, which are designed to introduce rules more stringent than the phase-out of Chapter II equipment by 2002, as laid down by the ICAO.
The editorial says that the decision about noise regulations at the London airports is important because opponents argue that the government's proposed restrictions would limit the operations of Chapter III aircraft. The proposed restrictions would lower allowed noise levels by 3 decibels in the daytime and 2 decibels at night, and the IATA claimed that these rules, backed by fines, would lead to uneconomic payload restrictions. The industry group also claimed that the proposed restrictions would not achieve the government's stated goal of reducing noise and encouraging carriers to use quieter aircraft. The editorial goes on to explain that the proposals for the London airports were first presented in October 1995, and were due to come into effect this April. However in December, IATA appealed the restrictions and won leave for a judicial review. In April the government backed down after receiving legal advice, and agreed to retain the old noise limits together with some improvements in monitoring during a period of further consultation. The U.K.'s Department of Transport remains determined to tighten noise controls around the London airports, the editorial says, but no timetable has been set for a conclusion.
Meanwhile, the European Commission, which supported the tougher ICAO rules proposed last year, now is pushing ahead with its own proposals to introduce new limits. The Commission is considering ways to more quickly phase-out Chapter II aircraft and to target the noisier Chapter III equipment. At the same time, ECAC is looking at a non-addition rule and a non-operational rule for hushkitted equipment. However, agreement among its members will be difficult to reach, said Tompkins (head of the ECAC's environmental working group), especially given the expansion of ECAC to include central European countries. "We have to recognise that the airlines have been given targets and that some of them will be seeking to meet them through hushkits," said Tompkins. "Any earlier cut-off date could present serious problems." Tompkins said he believes a non-operational rule would not have a large impact right now, because there are few hushkitted aircraft in Europe. However, he said he believes this will change. ECAC will probably follow the U.S. lead for Chapter II phase-out by setting a base level for hushkitted equipment in about 2000, he said, with phase-out to take place after that.
Meanwhile, Avi Gil, director of environment at the Airports Council International, said, "We argued that the lack of an integrated industry response to growing environmental concerns would lead to a proliferation of national and regional initiatives." Gil added, "Airports are very easy targets -- they have an address and they can't move. We are forced to respond in ways [the airlines] don't like. Although we don't like what we see, there's not much we can do." Gil also said he can see more noise quotas and noise credits on the horizon unless CAEP "gets its act together."
Airports have responded to pressure from environmental groups, the editorial says, particularly in Europe, by introducing a range of measures which airlines argue are leading to discriminatory and potentially anticompetitive practices. The measures include differential charges for Chapter II equipment, and occasionally a complete ban on Chapter II aircraft before the ICAO deadline of 2002. Philippe Hamon, director general of ACI Europe, said the airport lobby has been advocating for the ability of airports to impose operational restrictions. Hamon claims that noise is the single largest capacity constraint facing the airline industry, the editorial says. He said, "This is a subject that the whole industry is pussyfooting around. There is no soft option. Airports are not seeking to move the goalposts but attempting to negotiate through a well-nigh impossible situation. What we are talking about is absolute pragmatism. It is not an airport versus airline issue but an issue of air transport versus the population, [which] has the ability to stifle our industry."
The editorial goes on to say that some airports and governments have already shown that they want to work with local concerns and introduce their own policies. However, the editorial reports, this has led to controversy as different interests compete. For example, Belgian authorities announced late last year that Ostend Airport would have to ban all aircraft over 25 years old immediately. Ostend was a popular cargo hub, and used many older, noisier jets. After an appeal, a compromise was reached in which all aircraft over 28 years old would be banned after this year, with progressive bans on older equipment over the following three years. Luc van Bouwel, the airport's assistant manager, said the announcement by the government came as a complete surprise, and that it was not fair competition between airports.
The editorial says that the main impact of all the current and proposed regulations in Europe is on the cargo operators, which are vulnerable to night-time restrictions. Kay-Olaf Muehle, manager air operations Europe at United Parcel Service in Cologne, said, "We would have preferred it if the Chapter III transition period was maintained for night-time and daytime operations. 'But certain airports are open and some are not and we have to learn to work around it." The editorial reports that some cargo operators have already moved their hubs as a result of regulation. For example, TNT is moving its base from Cologne to Liege in Belgium, which has less stringent regulations for night-time operations. In order to keep its Cologne hub, UPS re-fitted its B727-100 fleet with Rolls-Royce Tays ahead of the expiration date. Muehle said, "It sent a message of goodwill and we got a 10-year extension."
The editorial mentions that Germany is at the forefront of regulatory developments, due to its strong environmental lobby. The Nuremberg airport plans to ban hushkitted equipment after the end of this year, the editorial says. In addition, in a landmark decision, the European Commission is allowing the Berlin airport authority to ban Chapter II equipment from Tegel and Tempelhof so long as their operation is still allowed at Schonefeld, since it is part of the same airport system. According to Muehle, German officials also have drawn up a bonus list which rewards quieter aircraft with lower landing charges. This strategy is being repeated across Europe, the editorial says. A survey by ACI-Europe identified 57 member airports which are applying differential charges based on noise. In addition, the Amsterdam/Schiphol Airport recently introduced tighter restrictions on Chapter II operations, and the Italian authorities are considering a complete night-time ban on Chapter II equipment, the editorial says.
Meanwhile, airline officials worry that the proliferation of individual national and airport initiatives in Europe will lead to tougher proposals from the European Commission. Muehle of UPS said, "Brussels takes these initiatives and starts to run with them and cook the hottest cocktail. The constant change is a worry that will not go away." The editorial says the worry will not go away until ICAO takes up the noise issue again. Philippe Hamon at ACI-Europe said there may be a move on the part of airlines, airports, and manufacturers to present a more unified front, and cited the formation of COFA, a lobby group comprised of all three.
The editorial concludes that more than anything, airlines fear a domino effect if the ruling at London's airports is against them. Asia-Pacific airline carriers, which stand to lose the most from restrictions on Boeing 747 operations, said that Los Angeles, Tokyo/Narita, and Osaka/Kansai are all considering similar restrictions if the U.K. successfully implements its plans. However, the editorial says in closing, the penalties for not complying with the proposed London regulations are not that great -- just $1,600 per aircraft movement -- and there is already an informal agreement among airlines that they will simply pay the fines rather than accepting payload restrictions.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: Appliance Manufacturer
DATE: June 1997
SECTION: No. 6, Vol. 45; Pg. 50; ISSN: 0003-679X
BYLINE: Richard Babyak
The publication Appliance Manufacturer reports that Echo, Inc., a leaf blower manufacturer, has produced a new gas-powered leaf blower designed to reduce noise. The article notes that noise from leaf blowers is under attack across the country, and that hundreds of municipalities have enacted bylaws restricting or banning the blowers. The article goes on to describe the technology used in the new Echo blower.
The article reports that Echo workers undertook a re-design effort focused on cutting noise in its line of backpack blowers, resulting in the Echo "Quiet 1" PB-46LN. According to the article, the model reduces noise by more than 50% compared to its predecessor, emitting 65 decibels (dBa) at full throttle at 50 feet (per ANSI B175.2-1990) and 60 dBa at three-quarter throttle, the level blowers operate at for most applications. (NPC Editors Note: See below for Consumer Reports testing of the Echo leaf blower.) The model uses a 44 cc commercial-grade, two-stroke engine, and achieves an average air volume of 370 cfm and a maximum velocity of 180 mph (both measured at the end of the pipe).
The article goes on to say that reducing noise levels in two-stroke engine blowers is difficult because they produce a worse sound that four-stroke engine blowers and there is little opportunity to cover them up with sound-deadening material. Space is limited on such blowers, and anything that adds to the weight of the system detracts from the portability benefit. The article explains that the Echo design team started their project by performing frequency analyses on the blower to learn what sound frequencies were coming from which areas. This approach was used because higher frequencies can be more easily absorbed by sound-deadening materials, while low frequencies need to be eliminated or reduced at the source.
The designers found that the sounds of air entering and leaving the blower were at relatively high frequencies, so sound-damping panels were added to the blower section to help mitigate that noise. Changes also were made to the fan to reduce its noise, the article says. The centrifugal fan, with 12 blades, spins between 8,000 rpm and 10,000 rpm. The article explains that it is difficult to reduce fan blade cutoff noise without reducing air moving performance, but a sharp cutoff produces a siren-like noise known as a blade pass frequency. The Echo team re-designed the blade tips or the fan with a slight skew so that the full width of the blade doesn't shear at the same time, the article reports.
The engine noise was more of a challenge, the article says, because there's not much that can be done to reduce the pulsing vibration caused by the reciprocating motion of the piston. Engine vibration both rattled the hard plastic components attached to the engine, and caused the engine-cooling fins to resonate at high frequencies. The rattling of the plastic parts was eliminated by isolating the mounting hardware, the article reports, and the resonating fin noise was contained by enclosing the area with a cover with sound-damping material on the inside. The fin enclosure solution also required a re-design of the cooling system since the engine is air-cooled. A re-design of the muffler baffles helped to reduce the exhaust noise, the article explains, by adding more passages. The engine air intake also was modified, the article reports. The Echo team developed a mesh of flat metallic material, similar to a Brillo pad, that was placed into the air intake air path, allowing air to enter the engine but cutting the amount of sound coming out of the intake, the article concludes.
NPC Editors Note: The April 1997 Consumer Reports Tested the PB46LN and found that it "didn't its noise claims." Consumer reports went on to say that "It's better...to try an electric blower. Ther're less noisey, pollute less, and are much cheaper."
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: PC World
DATE: June 1997
SECTION: No. 6, Vol. 15; Pg. 94; ISSN: 0737-8939
BYLINE: Michael Lasky
PC World printed a review of the $69 NoiseBuster Extreme stereo headphone noise-canceling system, and rated in favorably, especially for its price.
According to the review, the headphones are designed to cancel external sounds while providing high-quality sound reproduction. The system uses tiny microphones in the headphones to analyze the frequencies of ambient noise in any environment. It then generates a wave that neutralizes that sound. The reviewer reported that he heard only what the headphones were amplifying. The headphones use two AAA batteries, and a switch allows the user to select portable audio (for PCs) or airplane audio use.
The headphones are an especially good deal for their price, the review says. Competing noise-reduction headphones cost between $100 and $300.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: Chicago Tribune
DATE: May 30, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. 1; Zone: WC
BYLINE: Ray Quintanilla, with contributions by Rogers Worthington
DATELINE: Chicago suburbs, Illinois
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Jean Seaman, Roselle resident; Leeza Kuzera, Wheeling resident; Pamela Kasten, Waukegan resident
The Chicago Tribune reports that an increasing number of small airports in the Chicago suburbs are becoming the focal points of fights that involve residents who are opposed to airport expansions and worried about noise issues. The article explores the situation of the controversies revolving around the Schaumburg Airport, Lake in the Hills Airport in McHenry County, Palwaukee Airport in Wheeling, and Waukegan Airport in Lake County.
The article reports that residents who live near Schaumburg Airport, Lake in the Hills Airport, and Palwaukee Airport, say the noise generated by small private planes is so irritating and, at times, so incessant that they may as well be living next to O'Hare. The article says that when residents are already disgruntled about noise, the battles become even fiercer when the airfields try to expand. Residents say that the proposed changes would dramatically alter the character of their suburban neighborhoods by filling the sky with aircraft and more noise, the article reports. Dick Adorjan, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation, the agency that oversees small general aviation airfields, said, "It was just a matter of time before it happened. It's like anything else, when you make a major infrastructure improvement designed to boost capacity at an airport, then people are going to get upset about it."
At the Schaumburg Airport, bought by the village in 1994 for nearly $14 million, a 3,000-foot runway was expanded by 800 feet two years ago, the article reports. Now, a new terminal building is under construction to handle the 55,000 annual takeoffs and landings, and some residents are talking about forming a community group to fight any further expansion of the airfield. Roselle resident Jean Seaman, who lives less than 2 miles from the airport and works in her home, said, "They loop around, do touch-and-go landings and fly at low altitudes. It's just nerve-racking," Roselle Mayor Gayla Smolinski said the city has asked the pilots to fly over industrial parks, but when that's not possible, they often fly over residential areas.
The article goes on to report that the Palwaukee Airport in Wheeling has become one of the country's busiest general aviation airports in the past decade, averaging about 200,000 takeoffs and landings a year. Fred Stewart, Palwaukee's executive director, said the airport is the choice for most of the corporate jet traffic that comes into the Chicago area, partly because the airport's 5,000-foot runway is one of the longest in Chicago's suburbs. In January, the runway will be extended by another 400 feet to accomodate larger aircraft. Residents and political leaders, already angry about current noise levels, raised questions about the need for the extension. Safety concerns were also raised when a corporate jet crashed after taking off from the airport in October, killing four people and narrowly missing hitting an apartment complex. Leeza Kuzera, owner of a two-story town home about a block from where the corporate jet crashed, said, "I didn't think much about Palwaukee when I moved in, but sometimes, when there's a bad storm, the possibility of something bad happening does cross my mind."
The article reports that in Lake County, the Waukegan Airport is gaining a reputation as another Palwaukee because it is attracting large numbers of corporate aircraft. About 45 corporate jets, five helicopters, and 27 twin-engine planes are based at Waukegan Airport, and about 100 single-engine planes are housed in nearby hangers, the article says. In addition, the airport recently got its own U.S. Customs official to clear freight and baggage aboard international flights. Walter Jones, executive director of the Waukegan Port District, which oversees the airport, said airport officials want to extend their 6,000-foot runway to 7,500 feet so that it can "handle a fully fueled plane all the way from Japan." But residents living near the airport aren't happy with those plans, and want the public more involved when the airport decides to expand. Resident Pamela Kasten, who owns a home not far from the end of the airport's runway, said, "It's very loud here, and the noise rattles my walls some days."
Meanwhile, the article reports, in McHenry County, the communities of Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin, and Fox River Grove have expressed serious concerns about noise problems with a $20 million proposed expansion of Lake in the Hills Airport. The expansion plans would extend a 3,500-foot runway to 5,000 feet, and add an intersecting 3,400-foot runway. Gary Meisner, manager of the Lake in the Hills Airport, said in response to resident complaints: "People are always in an uproar, but the fact is that the demand for an expanded airport is there."
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Hartford Courant
DATE: May 26, 1997
SECTION: Town News; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Ken Byron
DATELINE: Plainville, Connecticut
The Hartford Courant reports that the Plainville (Connecticut) Town Council is considering adopting a noise ordinance after hearing resident complaints about noise from tractor trailers.
The article reports that council member William Petit said two people approached him with complaints about a tractor trailer left running all night, and the noise generated by a tractor trailer when it was started at 3 a.m. In both cases, the article says, the trucks were parked on residential streets. At a council meeting last month, council members asked Town Attorney Robert Michalik how to address the problem. Michalik said that tractor trailers cannot be banned from town streets, but that a noise ordinance could be imposed to punish truck drivers for making too much noise. Council members again raised the issue on May 12, and Michalik said he could research noise ordinances instituted by other communities and report back. Councillor Petit said, "I'm not sure a noise ordinance is the way to go, because whoever enforces it would have to be there when the truck is started. But I don't just want to forget the issue. This is a nuisance issue, and I'd like to try keeping people happy."
The article reports that Southington approved a noise ordinance in 1994, after residents complained about noise from a nightclub.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: News Tribune
DATE: May 30, 1997
SECTION: Local/State; Pg. B1
BYLINE: Sandi Doughton
DATELINE: Puget Sound, Washington
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Fred Felleman, killer whale expert and Northwest director of Ocean Advocates; John Calambokidis, biologist, Cascadia Research Collective
The News Tribune reports that scientists plan to set off a succession of underwater blasts in Puget Sound (Washington) next spring to study the geologic faults beneath the region and learn more about which areas are most earthquake-prone. But biologists are worried that the underwater noise could disturb or even harm whales, porpoises, seals, and sea lions in the area.
According to the article, there will be a meeting today between the geologists planning the experiments and biologists and environmentalists to discuss ways to reduce the impacts on marine mammals. Fred Felleman, a killer whale expert and Northwest director of Ocean Advocates, an environmental group, said, "Obviously, we're in a geological hot spot, and it's pretty important that we learn more about it. But I'm concerned that some of our resident species could be exposed to some really high volumes, and there's nowhere for them to run to get away from it." Robert Crossen, a professor of geophysics at the University of Washington and one of the researchers involved in the study, said the project could be canceled if the environmental concerns are large enough, but he believes the environmental concerns can probably be addressed.
The article reports that the experiments will use marine air guns to create powerful blasts of air that generate low-frequency sound waves. A long series of the air guns will be towed behind two research boats and aimed at the sea floor, cruising through Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca for about two weeks, and firing off blasts every 15 or 30 seconds, the article says. The blasts will be inaudible to people onshore or on boats, and will sound like a deep rumble to people in the water, Crosson said. The sound waves will travel through the water and into the rock below, and will then bounce back to the surface, where they will be recorded by a set of instruments on the boats. Scientists will be able to create a detailed map of rock layers and the geologic structures up to 15 miles underground by anaylzing the ways the signals bend. A piggyback project of the experiement will allow researchers to set up a network of 75 seismographs from Seattle to Tacoma, which will measure the way the vibrations ripple through the ground, adding depth to the underground map, the article reports.
The article goes on to say that the Northwest has a long history of earthquakes. In 1949, eight people died in an earthquake, and in 1965, a quake caused serious damage in the Puget Sound region. Last May, a small earthquake occurred, but caused no damage. The article says that the project is led by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, and its main goal is to map shallow faults, which experts believe are responsible for some of the region's earthquakes. Scientists have already discovered that a major fault runs through Seattle, passing beneath the Kingdome, and there is evidence that this fault triggered a massive earthquake 1,000 years ago. A fault may also run through the Tacoma area. Crosson explained that with the results of this experiment, scientists will be better able to pinpoint high-risk areas and estimate how much the ground will shake, which will help guide building codes for new construction and retrofitting older bridges, roads, and buildings.
Biologists agree that the project has laudable goals, but want it to be designed to shield marine mammals from the noise as much as possible and to collect data on how they react, according to biologist John Calambokidis of the Cascadia Research Collective. He added that gray whales will go out of their way to avoid sources of unnatural noise, and blue whale calls can travel thousands of miles through the water, leading to the hypothesis that blue whales can communicate with each other over vast distances and are very sensitive to sounds. The experiments are planned for March, the article says, when migratory marine mammals are at their lowest numbers in the region. In addition, observers will watch for marine mammals, and the blasts will be shut off if they swim into the area, the researchers said. The geologists also believe they have chosen a frequency of sound that should not be overly irritating to the mammals. But Calambokidis and other biologists say they're withholding judgment until they learn more. "There's an increasing awareness of the sensitivity of marine mammals to intense sounds," he said. "But there's a lot of unknowns."
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Cincinnati Enquirer
DATE: May 29, 1997
SECTION: Metro, Pg. B03
BYLINE: Beth Menge
DATELINE: Cincinnati, Ohio area
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Dusty Rhodes, Hamilton County Auditor
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Hamilton County (Ohio) Auditor Dusty Rhodes, concerned about loud airplane noise over western Hamilton County on Memorial Day weekend from the Cincinnati - Northern Kentucky International Airport, has informally asked Delhi Township Administrator Joseph Morency for the results of independent aircraft noise monitoring. Morency said he is working to compare the data from the independent system with data from the airport's monitoring system to make sure the former is accurate, and he hopes to provide the data to Rhodes within a few weeks.
According to the article, the independent noise monitors were installed in July 1995 to act as a check against airport noise data. The two monitors are in Saylor Park and on the Sisters of Charity property, and were paid for by $53,000 from Hamilton County, the Delhi township, Cincinnati, and the Sisters of Charity. Morency said, "The independent monitoring is useful both to check the airport's quarterly monitoring and also as a tool to us in the environmental impact study that will go on for the new runway."
The article reports that Rhodes wants to see the data, "because this has been a very, very bad weekend. We've had takeoffs at all sorts of hours, 4:30 in the morning, 12:30 at night." Rhodes said he wants to know whether the airport noise is louder than previously agreed upon. The airport's most recent monitoring, in April, showed an average decibel noise level of 58.9 in Delhi, which is below the 62 decibel noise level limit, according to airport officials, the article says.
The article goes on to report that airport spokesperson Ted Bushelman said that noise over the weekend was made worse by a low cloud layer, which causes aircraft noise to hit the clouds and bounce back, creating a lounder sound.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Evening Post
DATE: May 26, 1997
SECTION: News; National; Pg. 12
BYLINE: Christine Cessford
DATELINE: Wellington, New Zealand
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Maxine Harris, spokesperson, Residents Airport Noise Action Group (Ranag); Kilbirnie-Lyall Bay-Rongotai Residents' Association
The Evening Post reports that New Zealand's Environment Court has set aside the month of August to hear appeals against Wellington City Council's noise rules, contained in the proposed district plan, that would regulate airport noise. Appeals will be brought both by residents groups and by airline groups.
According to the article, the residents groups appealing parts of the plan are the Residents Airport Noise Action Group (Ranag), together with the Kilbirnie-Lyall Bay-Rongotai Residents' Association. Ranag spokesperson Maxine Harris said the appeal is focused on maximum noise levels at noise boundaries, exemptions to a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew, and engine testing during curfew hours. Harris said the group believes instead of trying to solve the noise problem, the council is simply putting noise boundaries around 600 homes.
Appealing on the other side of the issue, the article reports, are the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (Barnz) together with Air New Zealand, and Wellington International Airport Limited. The latter is appealing engine testing rules, the article says. According to council policy analyst Roger Styles, Barnz is seeking to have the noise boundary extended at Moa Point, and is appealing proposed land use controls for residential areas around the airport. Barnz argues that new homes should be prohibited within the noise boundary, but the council had planned to allow new dwellings as long as they were properly insulated against noise.
The article says that a late appeal from the Public Health Service was thrown out.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Plain Dealer
DATE: May 31, 1997
SECTION: Metro; Pg. 6B
BYLINE: Thomas Schultz
DATELINE: Cleveland, Ohio
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: John Onesko, Mike Anastasakis, Jim Higgins, residents
The Plain Dealer reports that the Jennings Freeway, which is being built in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, will be accompanied by noise barriers to protect residential neighborhoods from traffic noise. The 2.7-mile, six-land freeway will link Interstates 71 and 480. Some residents are happy about the noise barriers, while other worry that the barriers will be ugly and that grafitti artists will make them uglier. The Ohio Department of Transportation gathered public input about the type of noise barriers residents want Thursday, and will forward the comments to the Cleveland City Council, which has the final decision on the type of noise barriers the city gets.
According to the article, the Ohio Department of Transportation is gathering input about whether to build a wood, concrete, or metal wall. But at least one resident, John Onesko, said he doesn't care what kind of wall it is, he just wants the project to be finished and the neighborhood chaos to end. Although Onesko is eager for the barriers, his neighbor Mike Anastasakis isn't. He said he worries that graffiti artists will use the wall to display their urban art. Anastasakis said he would call the state if this happened, but the state probably wouldn't do much about it.
The article reports that the Department of Transportation has the same dilemma in about every neighborhood where noise barriers are proposed. Some residents want the barriers, while others say the walls are too ugly or too confining, boxing in residents who would rather view traffic or trees instead of blank walls.
Meanwhile, one resident, Jim Higgins, was angry at Thursday's meeting that his own home will not receive noise protection. Because Higgins' home stands alone, his area lacks the population density to justify construction of a noise barrier, the article reports. An state transportation official advised Higgins to write to state legislators if he has complaints.
The article concludes by saying that the freeway project begain in June 1996, almost 40 years after it was proposed in 1957. The road is expected to open in October 1998. The proposed noise barriers will stretch along much of the highway between the neighborhood just north of Denison Ave. and the exit at I-480. The article says the road project will cost about $51 million, and the noise barriers about $1.85 million.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: Morning Star
DATE: May 26, 1997
SECTION: Editorial; Pg. 8A
DATELINE: Wilmington, North Carolina area
The Morning Star printed an editorial that says the New Hanover County Board of Education, which voted to ignore neighbors' requests to quiet an air handling system and relocate a garbage container at the newly constructed Holly Tree Elementary School in the Wilmington, North Carolina area, should reconsider its decision and be a friendly neighbor.
The editorial reports that the school is set to open in the fall, and its air handler and garbage container now stand within 70 feet of one residence and near nine others. One neighbor, the editorial says, claimed that school officials promised that vegetation and a three-foot berm would buffer them from the school's less attractive aspects. Instead, however, the construction of the school just met minimum city requirements. To make matters worse, the editorial says, the school board rejected administrators' recommendation to move the garbage and build a noise-reducing wall. School Board Vice Chairman Janice Cavenaugh made the motion to kill the expenditure, saying the school already was costing more than it was supposed to.
The editorial advises that if the school board wants voters to approve the $125 million it wants to build and renovate schools, it should reconsider its action and do the right thing.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DATE: May 30, 1997
SECTION: St. Charles, Pg. 01
BYLINE: Ralph Dummit
DATELINE: St. Charles, Missouri
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Pat McDonnell, St. Charles resident and vice president of the St. Charles County Citizens Against Airport Noise (CAAN)
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that members of the St. Charles County Citizens Against Airport Noise (CAAN), a group opposed to westward expansion of Lambert Airfield near St. Louis, Missouri, has asked the St. Charles County Council to follow through on a resolution it passed in December to work toward a noise-abatement agreement with St. Louis, which owns the airport. At Tuesday's meeting of the County Council, CAAN members also told the council that although the group was formed to oppose the westward expansion of the airport, it was shifting its emphasis to focus on getting a noise-abatement agreement with Lambert officials.
According to the article, about 20 CAAN members attended Tuesday's meeting, including Pat McDonnell, a St. Charles resident and vice president of the group. McDonnell told the council that his group was frustrated the council has not been more assertive on the airport noise issue. Earlier this week, he accused the council of either not being committed "to pursue the resolution you passed months ago, or you do not believe we know what we are talking about on noise abatement." McDonnell also said that members of CAAN have spent the past 10 months analyzing noise-abatement agreements at other airports, and in October, they attended a meeting in Seattle of the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise. He said, "We talked to dozens of airport noise-abatement officers, mostly environmentalists, from other airports. They had real programs. Lambert has no program." McDonnell added that the group believes with a little effort from Lambert, aircraft noise could be controlled. He said, "Noise abatement does not involve Stage 3 aircraft, as some of you may have heard. It involves nothing more than a willing airport owner - this being the city of St. Louis - to treat its neighbors in a friendly fashion." McDonnell concluded by saying the group's request "is about making Lambert responsible for their noise pollution," the article reports.
In response to McDonnell's comments, County Council Chair Bob Schnur (R-3rd District) said he welcomed the group's shift in emphasis. "Their position has shifted to the middle," he said. "I'm pleased to see that CAAN has decided to cease its all-out opposition to W-1W and to deal with the more practicable and workable issue of proposing a noise agreement with the airport." But he asked the group to be patient, and said he hoped a dialogue with St. Louis officials about the viability of a noise-abatement agreement could be established within the next 30 to 45 days. The article says that Schnur said he could not identify any "firm movement" on the part of St. Louis officials on the noise abatement issue, "but some efforts have been made to initiate contacts with the new city administration." He said that the council probably would invite a representative of CAAN to a council work session, probably in July, to discuss the county's next move. Schnur added, the article reports, that he disagreed with some of the data produced by CAAN about noise-abatement agreements at other airports, saying that federal regulations had changed since the rules on such agreements.
Before Clarence Harmon was elected mayor of St. Louis, Leonard Griggs, the director of Lambert, said the St. Louis Airport Authority had never proposed signing an individual noise agreement with any community in the St. Louis area. Griggs added that Congress passed legislation in 1990 that prohibits the authority from restricting airline/aircraft operations, but that the authority would abide by the environmental impact statement and the decisions being developed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Capital
DATE: May 29, 1997
SECTION: Police Beat; Pg. A14
BYLINE: Karessa Weir
DATELINE: Hanover, Maryland
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Marie DeLano, mobile home park resident
The Capital reports that the the 72-acre Ridgewood Mobile Home Park, home to 126 families in Hanover, Maryland, is now in the hands of Circuit Court Judge Eugene Lerner after two days of technical testimony. Last year, Maryland Aviation Administration officials began condemnation proceedings against the property after trying to purchase it for 10 years. The property is less than a mile from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and is subject to noise levels that concern airport officials and upset many of the residents. But mobile home park owners Symcha and Joan Shpak have fought to keep the property operating as a mobile home park, saying the state has not offered them enough money and they won't be able to re-sell the land.
According to the article, Assistant Attorney General Richard Brice IV, representing the Maryland Aviation Administration, argued during the case that the state has the right to acquire the land. Witnesses for the state were Michael West, Baltimore-Washington International Airport deputy administrator, and Andrew Harris, a Massachusetts noise expert hired by the airport.
The article says that the lawyer representing the Shpaks, Donald Proctor, didn't call any witnesses, but arged his case through rebuttals, cross-examination, and with internal airport memos. A few mobile home park residents attended the hearing at the county courthouse in Annapolis, waiting to find out if they would receive payment from the state or be allowed to remain in their homes, the article reports. Mobile home park resident Marie DeLano said, "It's been so long -- a good 10 years. We've lost about 26 families, some just walked off and left their homes, tired of the fighting and knowing they couldn't sell them. There are empty lots and empty homes now."
The article says if the condemnation is approved, the state would place three easements on the parcel -- one that allows planes to fly overhead, another that bans anyone from living on the property, and a third to give the MAA control of the mobile home park while it relocates the residents. In addition, the residents would qualify for a portion of $8.1 million in federal and state money to move them into new housing. Louisa Goldstein, legal counsel for MAA, said the Shpaks would retain ownership of the property and be able to sell it or develop it for industrial or restricted commercial use, the article reports. However, the Shpaks take a dubious view of the likelihood of selling or developing the land. Mr. Shpak said the state's latest offer was $1.74 million, which is "peanuts." He went on to say, "sure, we could develop it -- if we had $30 million. We don't even have public water and sewer out there. And with all this paperwork, no one is going to want to buy it." The Shpaks said the mobile home park is their only source of income.
The judge's decision comes down to two things for the state, the article reports: current noise levels and future noise levels at the airport. If a new runway is built at the airport, noise levels directly over the mobile home park would increase. The article concludes that there is no time limit on when the judge must make a decision, but the decision is expected to come within two to four weeks. If the ruling is in favor of the state, a jury trial would be held to assess the value of the property, the article says.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Baltimore Sun
DATE: May 28, 1997
SECTION: Local (News), Pg. 4B
BYLINE: Consella Lee
DATELINE: Annapolis, Maryland
The Baltimore Sun reports that prospects for a new runway at Baltimore-Washington International Airport were debated yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court at a hearing on a lawsuit filed by the Maryland Aviation Administration to take temporary control of a nearby mobile home park and move its residents.
According to the article, if a new runway is built, it would end just a mile from the 150-unit mobile home park, making the neighborhood even noisier. But the lawyer for the defendents, the mobile home park owners, said the long proposed project was "pie in the sky." However, Michael West, the airport's associate administrator of planning and engineering, testified that the aviation authority plans to begin conducting environmental studies for the project in six months and hopes to complete the studies in two years. As part of the environmental study process, the Federal Aviation Administration must approve the project and public hearings must be held before the project could get underway. West said the new runway could be built by 2003, the article reports.
The comments came in a case between the Maryland Aviation Administration and mobile home park owners Symcha and Joan Shpak. In 1993, the mobile home park was added to the airport's noise zone, making residents eligible for government assistance in relocating, the the owners have refused state offers to buy the needed easement to end residential use. The state filed suit last year after the Shpaks turned down the abiation athority's offer to buy an easement that would prevent residential use, but allow warehouse and light industrial uses on the land. The aviation authority is seeking to close the mobile home park and move the residents elsewhere. The article reports that the park has been operated by the Shpaks since 1959 on about a quarter of a 72-acre tract they own off Ridge Road.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: May 30, 1997
SECTION: Section A; Page 28; Column 4; Editorial Desk
BYLINE: Louis Kibler, resident
DATELINE: New York, New York
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Louis Kibler, New York resident
The New York Times printed the following letter-to-the-editor from Louis Kibler, a New York resident, about how noisy it is to live in New York:
Re: Russell Baker's "No Town for Sissy Ears" (column, May 27): Notwithstanding enraged horn-blowers, you must tune in the more ear-popping sounds truly to recognize "our city that never sleeps."
Having returned from four days of noise no louder than bird chirps in the countryside of Lancaster, Pa., we almost forgot the lung power of humans leaving the corner bar at 2:15 A.M., lips flapping with acoustically designed sounds able to reach the internal frequencies of our sleeping bodies on the fourth floor. "I guess we're home," my wife rolled over and said.
Only quickly, though, do these sounds become drowned out by melodies of sirens replete with overtures from parked autos, fire trucks and police cars, and an occasional snort or two from the police horses on the clomp for other noise sinners. And never leave out Max, the local Rottweiler who hangs outside the Food Emporium announcing his disliked 11 P.M. roped-to-a-signpost presence awaiting his shopping owner. Someone throw that dog a bone!
A prelude to the weekend, anyone? Sleep in? Forget about it! Delivery trucks that shatter windows with sliding-door whams. Suburbanites, know what it's like? Try it. Open a garage door. Then slam it 12 times. When your neighbor calls, tell him there's a short in the automatic door closer.
Want to live in New York City? Try the 55th floor, but don't open the window. Because life offers other sounds of syncopation at these zones.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: Chapel Hill Herald
DATE: May 29, 1997
SECTION: Front; Pg. 1;
BYLINE: Ray Gronberg
DATELINE: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Joyce Brown, Town Councillor; Baird Grimson, president, Westside Neighborhood Association; Joe Herzenberg, former Town Councillor
The Chapel Hill Herald reports that the Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Town Council voted Tuesday to set up a committee to recommend changes to the town's noise ordinance. The action came in response to Westside resident complaints about the air handling system on the University of North Carolina's Thurston Bowles building. (Ed. note: Chapel Hill residents have also been complaining recently about noise from the University's Horace Williams Airport.) The Town Council said it will invite the university, business owners, and the public to participate on the noise committee, and will ask for neighborhood delegates from Westside, Northside, Chapel Hill's two historic districts, and the Horace Williams Airport vicinity.
According to the article, the action was encouraged by council member Joyce Brown, herself a Westside resident. Brown said the council should take action to address noise problems from large-scale heating and cooling systems now, before the University begins to work on two other buildings along South Columbia Street.
The article reports that Baird Grimson, president of the Westside Neighborhood Association, said the air handling unit at the University is "giving off a steady background noise" that disturbs "a lot" of homeowners. The association brought the issue to the attention of the University a month or so ago, and asked police to measure the noise levels of the unit. Grimson said the police's measurements, taken at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning, registered between 62 and 65 decibels along South Columbia Street directly across from the Bowles building, and registered between 56 and 58 decibels at the corner of University Drive and Ransom Street.
The article says that Chapel Hill's current noise ordinance puts a 50-decibel cap on noise levels between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., a 60-decibel cap during the day, and a 70-decibel cap on weekends with a permit, according to Police Department spokesperson Jane Cousins. In addition, she said, the ordinance prohibits loud, unusual or frightening sounds that interfere with property owners' rights. The current ordinance passed in 1991, and former Town Council Member Joe Herzenberg said the it was developed to address loud music and parties, as well as "startle noise," such as "sharp and sudden noises in the middle of the night." Herzenberg added that the ordinance wasn't formulated to address problems related to persistent noise because no one complained about such problems then, or because people believed the ordinance they formulated would be able to deal with such problems. But the article says that the ordinance hasn't proved to be a good tool in disputes about persistent noise. For example, the University's power plant regularly violated the decibel limit before workers figured out how to solve the problem.
The article goes on to say that the University responded to the Westside residents' complaints by asking an acoustics consultant to measure noise levels near the Bowles building, according to Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Bruce Runberg. Runberg said the consultant measured noise levels below those recorded by the police, but found there were problems at certain frequencies with a different building which has a noisy fan. The University is contemplating repairs, the article says.
Neighborhood Association president Grimson praised the university's response so far, but said the town needs a more sophisticated ordinance that would encourage builders to anticipate and cope with such problems before construction, the article reports.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: May 27, 1997
SECTION: Section A; Page 17; Column 1; Editorial Desk
BYLINE: Russell Baker
DATELINE: New York, New York
The New York Times printed an editorial that outlined the noise assaults the writer experienced in one evening in New York.
The editorial begins by saying an enraged horn-blower welcomed the writer to New York. The horn-blower was on the writer's rear fender, and was furious that the writer was trying to reach midtown Manhatten. The writer said he hated the horn-blower back, but not without fear because motorized gun-toters are much in the news these days. The writer said he shakes the horn-blower but not thousands of others all the way to 42d Street.
The writer said his evening continued by attending a Broadway show "The Life." He has chosen this musical, at $75 a seat, he says, because he believes it has a wonderful musical score, written by Cy Coleman. However, he says, the singers and musicians are miked "as loud as heavy-metal rockers blasting 100,000 fans in Central Park." The amplification not only makes the lyrics unintelligible, it threatens to blow the audience out the theater. The writer asks, "Cy, baby, didn't Ethel Merman used to do this work with nothing but lungs?"
After the musical, the writer's evening continues through more screaming horns and sirens to an eating establishment. The writer says six men are drinking and shouting happily at a nearby restaurant. He says their table "becomes a cone of jolly uproar." The writer speculates with a local New Yorker whether these men are New Yorkers for whom loud noise is a way of life, or money-makers from Wall Street who are overwrought from the daily routine of praying the market won't decline.
The writer also says that traveling the city in taxis introducers the rider to the culture of other nationalities. On numerous cab rides, he listens to blaring radios in other languages while the drivers go 50 miles an hour in downtown areas, surrounded by screaming horns and sirens. Why would he live anywhere else?, he concludes.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Herald
DATE: May 28, 1997
SECTION: Pg. 9
DATELINE: Kilmarnock, Scotland
The Herald reports that Michael McGinn of Kilmarnock, Scotland has had his television and radio confiscated because he played them too loudly. McGinn also has been fined 450 pounds by the Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.
According to the article, at a hearing yesterday, McGinn admitted causing annoyance with his TV and radio cassette at his home on Tourhill Road last week, and repeatedly causing a breach of the peace. Deputy fiscal Roddy Urquhart told the court that police were called to McGinn's home after his neighbors complained about the noise. The neighbors were watching TV with the sound turned off because they could hear the sound from McGinn's TV, which was tuned to the same program, Urquhart said. TV or radio noise at the same level went on till 1:45 in the morning, until the neighbors called the police, the article reports. Urquhart added that police had to come to McGinn's house three times to tell him to turn down the volume. Sheriff Terence Russell told McGinn: "You are making a thorough nuisance of yourself," the article reports.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Vancouver Sun
DATE: May 28, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. B1 / Front
BYLINE: Robert Sarti
DATELINE: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Lynne Kennedy, City Councillor; Philip Owen, Mayor
The Vancouver Sun reports that the Vancouver City Council Tuesday adopted a noise ordinance that will crack down on everything from motorcycles to weed-eaters in an effort to make big-city life more civilized. In a somewhat related move, the council also voted to put a halt to further major road construction in Vancouver and provide funding for more buses, trains, bicycles, and pedestrians, an action with benefits to traffic noise levels.
The article reports that a number of anti-noise initiatives were discussed at Tuesday's meeting. Councillor Lynne Kennedy said that the city needs limits for the levels of noise it experiences. Motorcycles with noisy mufflers was an especially sore topic, the article reports. Mayor Philip Owen said, "They should grab them and take them off the road. I hate those noisy motorcycles." The council agreed to work with incoming chief constable Bruce Chambers to see if enforcement against noisy mufflers can be improved. The council also decided to ask police to crack down on the public use of loudspeakers, and "party houses" that disturb neighbors. The city's staff will establish noise-level limits for weed-eaters, the article reports, and fire trucks will restrict the use of large air horns to emergencies. In addition, the council agreed that the city should monitor noise-level complaints about the Molson Indy and look for sites for the race away from residential areas, the article says.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Washington Post
DATE: May 28, 1997
SECTION: Prince William Extra; Pg. V01
BYLINE: Michael Shear
DATELINE: Manassas, Virginia area
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Bob Snuggs, committee member and homeowner; Liz Cronauer, committee member and homeowner; Mike Vanderpool, committee member and land-use lawyer
The Washington Post reports that a citizen panel created to address concerns about expansion of the Manassas (Virginia) Regional Airport will recommend a series of actions aimed at reducing airplane noise and requiring disclosure to potential buyers of nearby homes. However, the article reports, the panel is divided on the issue of how to compensate current residents, who fear that the new disclosure rules will make it difficult to sell their homes. The 16-member committee is scheduled to complete its work Wednesday, and will present its findings and recommendations to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on June 10.
According to the article, the Manassas airport, with 127,000 takeoffs and landings last year, is Virginia's busiest after National and Dulles International airports. The airport recently opened a new $4 million passenger terminal, and officials hope to extend the runway by 1,000 feet to improve safety and to allow larger planes to land. According to airport director Bruce Lawson, the runway expansion is undergoing an environmental assessment and is being reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration in a process that will probably take 12 to 16 months. Lawson added that the committee's work was important in easing residents' concerns during the airport expansion. "We certainly recognize that we want to be a good neighbor," Lawson said. "I think it was prudent to have citizen involvement in the discussions. It was a very meaningful process."
The article goes on to say that the committee has met for more than three months, and is set to recommend that the airport place some limits on the hours that airplanes and helicopters can fly, especially late at night and early in the morning. Other recommendations will include urging that planes take off to the north, away from residential neighborhoods, whenever possible, and urging pilots not to rev their engines unnecessarily. Liz Cronauer, a homeowner and a member of the committee, said she hopes the committee has raised the consciousness of residents, the city, the county, and the FAA.
The committee also will recommend that county officials create a "noise overlay district" that would cover many of the homes in the immediate area of the airport, and would warn future homebuyers about the noise-related concerns of living in the area. The committee was divided over whether to make this recommendation, the article says, because many current homeowners worry that the result will be decreased property values and an inability to sell their homes. Mike Vanderpool, a committee member and land-use lawyer in Manassas, said he thinks the overlay district will give fair warning to prospective homebuyers that there's an airport in the vicinity. Cronauer said living in the overlay district will not only make it difficult to sell her house, it will give officials a built-in excuse to ignore noise complaints made by homeowners. Cronauer said, "It sort of legitimizes the noise. They would put it in place to warn people who are moving to the area, but I think it really just penalizes the people who are already there."
Committee member and homeowner Bob Snuggs said he thinks the airport should compensate residents who live in the overlay district by either soundproofing their homes, offering buyouts, or guaranteeing a minimum sale price on their homes, the article reports. The committee has not yet decided what kind of compensation to recommend, but airport director Lawson said the airport has already offered some compensation to residents who live near the airport and are affected by noise. Lawson added that the airport acquired 13 acres of land last year from nearby residents using federal grants, and will make offers on an additional 70 acres this year.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: Copley News Service
DATE: May 28, 1997
SECTION: State and regional
BYLINE: Otto Kreisher
DATELINE: Washington, D.C.
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego
Copley News Service reports that U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and U.S. Representative Bob Filner (D-San Diego) announced Wednesday that they are preparing legislation to stop the Marine Corps from moving its helicopters to Miramar, a former naval air station in San Diego. Residents near Miramar have opposed the move and have urged that the helicopters be moved instead to March Air Force Base, in San Bernardino County, which has extra room due to the transfer of active Air Force units.
The article reports that the Tustin and El Toro Marine Corps Air Stations in Orange County were ordered closed by the 1993 and 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commissions, and the CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters located at those air stations were ordered moved to Miramar. The article says that Marine F/A-18 fighters and C-130 transports already have relocated to Miramar from Orange County.
The legislation being prepared by Boxer and Filner would block the Navy Department from using any funds appropriated by Congress to move the approximately 100 helicopters to Miramar. Filner said in an announcement, "This bill is for the residents around Miramar, whose concerns about safety, pollution, and noise were ignored by the Defense Department, despite the availability of better locations for the helicopters." Boxer said that she has received hundreds of letters and thousands of telephone calls on the Miramar relocation, and that residents "should not be forced to sacrifice their quality of life and endure the noise of heavy helicopters running training missions over their homes."
The article says that Boxer will introduce the bill in the Senate, and Filner will submit similar legislation in the House when Congress returns to work next week. However, the article reports, the bill would appear to have little chance in the Republican-led Congress, which has refused in the past to override the decisions of base closure commissions.
Finally, the article says, there is also a legal challenge to the planned helicopter move pending in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The lawsuit cites environmental concerns, and preliminary hearings are set for this week, the article reports.
NPC Noise News
PUBLICATION: The Hartford Courant
DATE: May 27, 1997
SECTION: Connecticut; Pg. A3
BYLINE: Colin Poitras
DATELINE: Portland, Connecticut
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: James Laban, neighbor and attorney; Eliot Abolafia, neighbor
The Hartford Courant reports that residents from the Bell Court subdivision of Portland, Connecticut have taken their farmer neighbor to court over noise from propane corn cannons that scare off blackbirds from his sweet corn crop. Judge Richard Stanley is considering the case in the Middlesex Superior Court.
The article reports that the attorney for the residents, James Laban, is also a neighbor in the subdivision and a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut Law School. He represents about a dozen neighbors who have filed suit against Richard Gotta, the farmer using the corn cannons, and Donald Goodrich, the town of Portland's finance director and the property owner who leases the land in question to Gotta. Laban was in court this month to seek an injunction barring Gotta from using the cannons, the article says.
According to the article, the corn cannons go off from dawn to dusk at a rate of 45 an hour, and neighbors say their nerves are frayed. Neighbor Eliot Abolafia said, "It's a constant aggravation. Sometimes the windows shake. We have to leave our houses if we want to do work or nap during the day. If someone works the late shift and comes home to sleep, he can't. And closing the windows and turning on our air conditioners doesn't help."
The article goes on to say that state law allows farmers to use noisemaking devices to repel wildlife as long as they get a permit and meet certain criteria. Gotta has a permit to fire as many as three cannons on his 48-acre farm during the spring and summer growing season, according to Gabe Moquin, a deputy director in the state Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Regulation and Inspection. Gotta's permit stipulates that the cannons can be fired from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and cannot exceed 100 decibels.
Gotta's lawyer, Edward Peters Jr., says Gotta is protected by a state law that says farming activities cannot be considered a nuisance if they had existed for at least one year prior to 1981 and if they have not been "substantially changed." Peters said the farm Gotta leases has been in existence since 1920. But Laban argues that the farm was previously a tobacco farm, and was mostly fallow in the early 1980s. Laban said Gotta's corn crop appeared in 1986, and the "shelling" started soon after. Laban and the neighbors argue that the corn crop and the cannons are a "substantional change" from the way the old tobacco farm was run. The neighbors also claim that it's easier for Gotta, as a renter, to find a more remote field for his corn than it is for them to move.
The article continues by saying that Gotta's attorney Peters said his client has a right to protect his sweet corn crop, which is worth thousands of dollars an acre. Peters said birds can cause a loss of 40%-50% of the crop if it's not protected. Laban counters, however, that hundreds of other corn growers get by fine with resorting to cannons. According to the Department of Agriculture, the state issued 42 corn-cannon permits in 1995, and 38 in 1996.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture supports the right of farmers to use the cannons. Moquin, of the Dept. of Agriculture, said his department has received more complaints regarding Gotta's cannon than with other farms, probably because there are more homes nearby. Moquin insists, however, that propane cannons are the only effective way to get rid of blackbirds. He said other farmers have tried everything from balloons and kites resembling hawks to aluminum pie plates and ultrasonic alarms (which put local cats and dogs in distress). Moquin added that the Department of Agriculture was "in the business to support the farmer and the production of food," and would issue a noisemaker permit for any farmer who qualifies for one.
The article says that neighbors can appeal a state corn-cannon permit, but only if their town's executive body passes a resolution. That local resolution then must be submitted to the state agriculture commissioner for review, and the commissioner, whose department issued the noisemaker permit in the first place, has the power to accept or reject the appeal. "Unbelievable, isn't it?" said Laban, his exasperation evident.
NPC Noise News
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