Noise News for Week of November 1, 1998

Two Chicago Suburbs to Get Mobile Monitors to Measure Noise from O'Hare

PUBLICATION: Chicago Daily Herald
DATE: November 7, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. 4
BYLINE: Jon Davis
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Arlene Mulder, Arlington Heights Village president

The Chicago Daily Herald reports mobile noise monitors will soon be placed in Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows to measure noise from O'Hare International Airport.

According to the article, the mobile monitors in Arlington Heights and Rolling will help determine the severity of current noise, and whether each community will get an additional permanent noise monitor, said Mary Rose Loney, Chicago's aviation commissioner. "Our goal is to deploy monitors in places where they'll give us the most accurate readings on noise in the general area," Loney said Friday at a meeting of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. Rolling Meadows Mayor Thomas Menzel hopes the mobile monitor can help prove the city is hit by O'Hare noise. If so, the city can gain full voting rights on the commission and a share of sound proofing funds, he said.

The article reports most of Arlington Heights and all of Rolling Meadows lie outside the noise-affected area as measured by a 1993 noise contour map. But residents and officials of both towns have long complained that noise has increased because more flights are using runways which point southeast-to-northwest. In Arlington Heights, members of the village's advisory committee on O'Hare noise contend such flights are defeating the city's "Fly Quiet" program, which tries to direct flights over non-populated areas between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. A mobile monitor should give the village additional data to back up that claim, Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder said. In Arlington Heights, the monitor will be placed near areas where residents are making the most complaints to the village's noise complaint hot line. That will likely be on the village's east side, south of Central Road, and perhaps in the vicinity of Carefree Park, Mulder said. "I've had a number of residents volunteer their property," she said.

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Chandler, Arizona, Debates Runway and Heliport Issues at Local Airport

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic
DATE: November 6, 1998
SECTION: Chandler Community; Pg. Ev1
BYLINE: Janie Magruder
DATELINE: Chandler, Arizona

The Arizona Republic reports Chandler, Arizona, officials Thursday debated the future of the city's airport, addressing such issues as the length of runways, relocating a heliport, and jurisdiction over the airport.

According to the article, at press time the City Council had not decided whether to lengthen one of two airport runways to make it safer for pilots to land in the summer. Nor had members voted to move a noisy heliport away from complaining homeowners on the airport's western edge. The council previously conducted a public hearing on the airport master plan, which included consultants' recommendations to extend a 4,850-foot runway to 6,800 feet and to relocate the heliport to the eastern side of the airport. Councilwoman Donna Wallace, the council's liaison to the Airport Commission, presented drawings that indicate the homeowners won't receive much relief from noise even if the heliport is moved. Wallace said many helicopter pilots will stop using the heliport if it is located far away from the airport terminal, as proposed. The heliport was built in 1991, after the adjacent homes were built. Noise from an increasing number of helicopters using the airport has made life unbearable for many residents of Maricopa County.

The article reports on the issue of runway length, consultants said the southern runway should be lengthened because some planes cannot land during the summer because of the heat. Some pilots bypass Chandler to land elsewhere, or are required to dump fuel or have fewer passengers before landing at Chandler, the consultants said. But opponents believe the city wants to lengthen the runway to attract larger jets, and they say Arizona law doesn't permit it. State law is "somewhat ambiguous" about the ability of elected officials to restrict the lengths and widths of airport runways, City Attorney Dennis O'Neill said. "I read the law that city councils can't put on restrictions that affect other airports, but they are the proprietors of this airport, and they make decisions on this airport, and this doesn't stop them from making a decision on how long a runway should be," O'Neill said. The city was sued by a group of airport tenants in U.S. District Court in 1990, one year after Chandler voters approved an initiative that banned jets at the airport. A compromise between the city and proponents of the jet ban resulted in the City Council limiting runway lengths to 4,850 feet. The lawsuit, which did not address state law, alleged the council's action was unconstitutional on a federal level, O'Neill said. The action was dismissed by a federal judge.

The article states council members expressed concerns at Thursday's meeting that pilots frequently don't stay within flight paths, flying wherever and however they choose. "What can the city do?" Councilman Boyd Dunn asked. "Can the city tell these users, 'We don't want you to use our airport'?" Because much of the airport has been paid for by federal funds, the federal government enforces the law, and the city can do little, other than hand out information pamphlets to pilots, a city official said.

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Airport Debate in Chandler, Arizona, Pits Residents who Want Quiet Against Supporters of Economic Development

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic
DATE: November 5, 1998
SECTION: Chandler Community; Pg. Ev1
BYLINE: Janie Magruder
DATELINE: Chandler, Arizona

The Arizona Republic reports officials considering accelerating development around the airport in Chandler, Arizona, face opposition from residents who want peace and quiet.

According to the article, public hearings on the airport master plan and airpark area plan will be held during the City Council's meeting this evening. "It's going to happen," said Councilwoman Patti Bruno, who for two years was the council's liaison to the Airport Commission. "Economic development is coming to that part of town, and we have to make sure it's done right." To that end, the city has spent approximately $306,000 for a noise study and creation of a plan dictating the future commercial and industrial uses of 9 square miles of private land around the airport.

The article reports some of the airport's neighbors complain that an increasing number of helicopters taking off and landing at the airport's heliport, which was built in 1991 after the homes were constructed, has destroyed their peace and quiet. Consultants have recommended the heliport be moved to the eastern side of the airport, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, most of which would be paid by state and federal sources. But some Planning and Zoning Commission members view that as a short-term solution, saying the residents will need to be moved eventually and doing so soon will cost less than later. Councilman Phill Westbrooks said, "Logically speaking, that's the better way to go, to try to buy them out, but money is the object," Westbrooks said.

The article states residents also are unhappy that the consultants proposed that one of the airport's two runways be lengthened to 6,800 feet from 4,850 feet. The opponents claims the city wants to attract larger jets to the airport but highlighted a 1989 Chandler referendum in which voters said jets should be banned from landing there. The City Attorney's Office said such a ban was unconstitutional, and a compromise was struck that limited the runways to 4,850 feet. But now, the consultants say a longer runway is needed for jets to safely take off in the summer when it is more difficult because the air is thinner. "I've read the plan and the reports, and there's just no way it's going to bring in bigger planes," Bruno said. But opponents don't accept that and have threatened circulating recall petitions against City Council members who support the extension. They also are concerned about increased noise and air traffic that more jets will bring and the safety of residents in the flight paths. These extend over part of the new Hamilton High School campus, a mile west of the airport. The consultants say studies show the runway extension will have no effect on safety or noise at the school.

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Arizona Residents Become Noise Experts to Get Sound Wall Built

PUBLICATION: The Arizona Republic
DATE: November 4, 1998
SECTION: Chandler Community; Pg. Ev1
BYLINE: Betty Beard
DATELINE: Ahwatukee Foothills, Arizona
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Duane Cresse, resident; Frances Papp, resident; Georgia Hannah, resident; Larry Clauss, resident

The Arizona Republic reports residents of Ahwatukee Foothills in Arizona pleaded with the village planning committee Monday to build a noise mitigation wall near Interstate 10, claiming the noise is unbearable and driving their housing values down.

The article reports one-by-one, freeway neighbors told the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee on Monday their noise horror stories. Duane Cresse learned to sleep with the radio playing to drown out the traffic. Frances Papp sleeps with two electric noise filters running all night. "When you have a house you want to enjoy it. I'm not enjoying it," she said. Georgia Hannah keeps fans going constantly, screams to be heard in the back yard and turns the TV up loud to hear it. "We've absolutely had it," she said. The residents told Phoenix and the Arizona Department of Transportation officials they need a noise mitigation wall. The residents have become expert enough to know the noise gets louder when it rains and quieter when cars drive on temporary rubberized asphalt, as opposed to concrete.

The article states Phoenix planner Robert Pikora and Fred Garcia, an ADOT planner, said they will discuss what kind of a wall is necessary, its cost and whether there are any funds available to build one. They will report to the committee in January. If residents get their wishes, the existing 8-foot-high wall would be torn down, and an 8-inch-thick noise mitigation wall would replace it, at a cost of $17 to $20 a square foot. Garcia said a wall hasn't been built because repeated tests by ADOT and two other companies have shown that the noise levels range from 60 to 64 decibels, well below the ADOT standard of 67 decibels and Phoenix's standard of 65 decibels. But he conceded that noise is subjective. "Most people feel 60 to 62 decibels are too high," Garcia said. However, Larry Clauss, who lives two-tenths of a mile west of the freeway and is bothered by the noise, said he conducted sound meter tests using the same method as ADOT and readings ranged from 64 to 69. After hearing the complaints, Garcia said, "Personally, I think they need a wall."

According to the article, Phoenix now requires developers who want to build homes next to freeways to build noise mitigation walls at least 6 feet high and 8 inches thick. But people who live in houses built before the regulation don't get such protection. During Monday's meeting, committee member Mike Foster asked the obvious question of Hannah: Why did she choose to live next to a freeway?. "Back in 1981 it was perfect. There were no neighbors behind us," she said. Ahwatukee Foothills exploded in population, the freeway was recently widened, and the noise got louder. "The noise is endless," she said.

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