Noise News for Week of November 22, 1998

Calif. Residents Threaten to Block New Cal State Stadium, Citing Noise and Traffic

PUBLICATION: The Daily News of Los Angeles
DATE: November 24, 1998
SECTION: Sports, Pg. S1
BYLINE: Brian Dohn
DATELINE: Los Angeles, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Frank Canter, member of the Zelzah Coalition; Lois Raybin, resident

The Daily News of Los Angeles reports neighbors are vehemently opposed to a new football stadium at the North Campus of Cal State Northridge. Fearing noise, traffic, and a general deterioration of their neighborhoods, residents are circulating a petition and threatening to take the issue to court.

According to the article, in a highly emotionally meeting Monday, Cal State Northridge's site committee voted 7 to 3 in favor of recommending the North Campus as an on-campus site for an 8,000- to 9,000-seat stadium. The area residents emotionally denounced such a move. "This is not about the football stadium," said Frank Canter, a member of the Zelzah Coalition. "This is about a money-making proposal. I really think that this community is basically, overwhelmingly (agreed) that a stadium on campus is not going to work." Previously, on off-campus site had been considered. Some of the protesters brought signs stating, "No Stadium in My Backyard," and, "No more lies about the size." A petition was circulated to block the move and a table was set up with the signs: "This stadium could be used for loud rock concerts! Rock concerts draw drugs and crime."

The article reports approximately 150 detractors and supporters showed up to see plans drawn by Tom Tindall, CSUN director of facility planning, detailing how a stadium would be situated on the North Campus. The on-campus site approved by the committee is approximately 50 yards south of the existing 7,500-seat North Campus Stadium. The football field would be 210 feet from Lindley Avenue, 375 feet from Zelzah Avenue and considerably further from Lassen Street. Tindall also outlined how the university would answer the complaints of area residential groups. That includes traffic, noise, lighting, parking, the size of the facility and the type of events at the facility. Tindall said landscape buffers would be built to mitigate the noise. But area residents said there was a strong sense of distrust toward the administration. "This is about a non-trust," said Lois Raybin, a Northridge Townhomes backer. "We don't know who to trust anymore."

The article states a handful of residents showed up to support the plan. Alan Oberman, president of CSUN's alumni association, told the crowd the association's board of directors, which represents 130,000 alums, voted unanimously to support an on-campus stadium. "Anything less than on campus would be unacceptable," Oberman said. CSUN needs to build a new stadium because the existing one will be a casualty of the MiniMed biotech facilities. Originally, CSUN administrators wanted to build a 12,000 to 15,000-seat stadium to comply with an earlier agreement with the Big Sky Conference. Upon accepting membership into the Big Sky three years ago, CSUN promised a new stadium. Conference commissioner Doug Fullerton said he wanted the stadium on campus and in the 12,000 to 15,000 range. But in an e-mail to Wilson on Monday, Fullerton said otherwise. "I believe if you were to build an 'elegant' 8000-9000 seat stadium with good press, team and officials' facilities, I believe the presidents would react favorably," Fullerton wrote. "I would ask that in the design you allow for future expansion should you want to do so." If the current recommendation is approved, area residents threatened to block construction via the courts.

The article goes on to say the CSUN administration made a number of assertions in hopes of easing the doubts of area homeowners about the new 8,000- to 9,000-seat football field on the North Campus: (1) Traffic flowing to the North Campus Football Field would use main arterials. Event traffic would be prohibited from certain neighborhoods. (2) The interior location, appropriately engineered use of the hill mass on the North Campus and a landscape buffer strip, afford the opportunity to mitigate noise impacts on the neighborhood. (3) Siting the facility in the interior of the campus provides substantial opportunity to mitigate lighting impacts. (4) The university should be asked to form an Events Advisory Committee. This committee would consider community requests for use of the facility and make recommendations to the university prior to an event being approved for staging in the facility.

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Residents Consider Noise Ordinance in Conn. Town

PUBLICATION: The Hartford Courant
DATE: November 24, 1998
SECTION: Town News; Pg. B3
BYLINE: Vanessa Hua
DATELINE: Ellington, Connecticut

The Hartford Courant reports Ellington, Connecticut, residents gathered Monday at a town ordinance meeting addressing noise and blight.

According to the article a board of selectmen subcommittee called the meeting to gather information. About 10 residents listed complaints such as noisy powerboats on Crystal Lake, blaring parties, and junked cars in yards. Their concerns ranged from annoyance to worry that blight would lower property values. Powerboats with unmuffled engines and all-terrain vehicles and off-road bikes are the sources of unwanted noise in and around Crystal Lake, said Robert Pagani, who lives in the area. Pagani believes if enforcement officers caught violators, word would spread and put a stop to the noise.

The article reports the consensus at the meeting called for more enforcement, but strong interest was shown about creating ordinances. Currently, there are no Ellington ordinances for noise and blight, except in specific situations, such as noise level emanating from gravel pits. Resident state trooper Michael Hesnan said that a warning from police is usually enough to quiet noisy parties. Police can already arrest people for disorderly conduct or public disturbance. In the last sixth months, police have made no arrests in connection with noise, he said. Hesnan said that he prefers broader ordinances that leave arrests up to officer discretion. Stricter, more specific ordinances could wind up hampering police. For example, setting a noise level ordinance would force police to show up with a decibel meter when arriving on the scene, he said. After another meeting next month to discuss ordinances on other issues, the subcommittee will present proposed ordinances in early 1999 to the board of selectmen. Public hearings will follow and then a town meeting to vote on the proposals.

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Ohio Residents Oppose Firing Range; Noise and Loss of Property Value Among Objections

PUBLICATION: The Plain Dealer
DATE: November 24, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Pg. 1B
BYLINE: Steve Luttner
DATELINE: Brunswick, Ohio
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Steve Vachon, resident; Elsie Townsend, resident

The Plain Dealer reports a proposed police shooting range in Brunswick Hills, Ohio, brought our dozens of residents yesterday who voiced their objections to noise and loss of property value.

According to the article, many of the residents who live near the proposed site expressed their displeasure at a Medina County commissioners meeting. "None of you guys would want it in your back yard, and we don't want it in ours," said Steve Vachon, a Plumcreek Pkwy. resident who gave commissioners a petition that he said contained the signatures of 120 people who oppose the project. The range would be established on county land across the street from Plumcreek County Park. Several residents said yesterday that they feared the shooting would disturb wildlife in the area. But their main concern seemed to be the noise of the guns.

The article reports Robert J. Osiecki, Brunswick Hills Township police chief, said encroaching development has rendered an existing police shooting range inoperable. The new range would be used by the Medina County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Brunswick, Brunswick Hills and Hinckley, he said. "There is no threat of any errant bullets," said Osiecki, who noted that police would be shooting into dirt mounded high on three sides. "Noise will be at a minimum." He said the range would be used by police 50 to 60 days a year but would not be open to the public, Osiecki said. Osiecki said police must practice their marksmanship. "We need to have the best-trained officers to serve you," he said. However, Elsie Townsend, who has lived in her Plumcreek Pkwy. home for 40 years, said she is already suffering ill effects from the proposed shooting range. She said a potential buyer for her home is expressing reluctance because of it. Townsend said the range could lower real estate values in the area.

The article states the proposed lease for the county land is now being drafted, but Commissioner Patricia Geissman said yesterday that the county might want to instead consider locating a police shooting range at a quarry in Westfield Township. She said she would collect more information about the site.

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Noise Won't Fly as Reason for SFO Runways over Salt Bay

PUBLICATION: The San Francisco Chronicle
DATE: November 24, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. A1
BYLINE: Marshall Wilson, Michael Mccabe
DATELINE: San Francisco, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Catherine Hay, Cargill Salt general manager; Will Travis, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; Florence LaRiviere, chairwoman of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge

The San Francisco Chronicle reports San Francisco International Airport officials outlined a plan yesterday to build new runways over the bay. Environmentalists are skeptical.

According to the article, airport officials promoted the proposal as a way to end chronic delays, lessen noise and accommodate larger jets. The airport also has come under pressure from the Federal Aviation Administration and pilots to increase distances between its narrowly separated parallel runways. San Francisco airport's airfield consists of two sets of intersecting, parallel runways just 750 feet apart. In bad weather, that short distance forces the airport to cut by half its per hour landing capacity. But many Bay Area environmental experts say they are not convinced that filling in two square miles of the bay would be anything but a huge mistake.

The article reports airport officials believe they have a good plan which includes converting nearly 30,000 acres of South Bay salt-evaporation ponds to wetlands as a trade-off for the needed fill. As outlined in a feasibility study, the project would need up to 1,400 acres. Director John Martin said the airport hopes to complete necessary environmental studies by late next year and break ground in 2000. The aggressive pace is needed, Martin said, because the Bay Area will run out of airfield capacity by 2010. "The feasibility study shows that we can reduce the terrible delays we experience, have no shift in noise and produce significant environmental gains for the bay itself," Martin said.

According to the article, environmental law specifically prohibits using noise as a reason for building runways in the bay. Of runway configurations studied, San Francisco airport came up with two favored alternatives. Each involves closing a runway used primarily for planes approaching over the Peninsula and building a new runway 4,300 feet east in the bay. The configuration would eliminate intersections and shift flights away from bayside housing, particularly in Foster City. The most ambitious plan involves building a new 11,500-foot north-south runway and closing an existing one. It could be used by the largest jets to reduce the number of big planes that rattle windows as they take off through the San Bruno Gap, a low point in the coastal hills. The airport is already spending $120 million to insulate homes in neighboring communities and has plans to reduce the number of noise -affected homes to zero by 2000.

The article goes on to say some environmentalists question whether airport officials have fully looked at other options, such as shifting flights to airports in Oakland or San Jose, using military airfields or taking advantage of technology to make landings safer and reduce noise. Critics say the airport needs to make a stronger case before its offer to buy privately owned South Bay salt ponds is even considered. "You can't buy a permit," said Will Travis, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which was formed to block filling the bay. "We can't skip over the analysis and go straight to the mitigation." Travis, whose agency must approve the project, questions why only a few years ago airport officials dismissed the need for a new runway layout. As the airport planned its $2.4 billion project to build a new international terminal and other improvements now under way, the conservation and development commission was assured that the airport had no runway plans. Another problem is that the owner of the salt ponds does not want to sell. Cargill Salt General Manager Catherine Hay calls the plan "a cynical land grab." Yet, as a public entity, San Francisco airport does have the right to take private property through eminent domain. Florence LaRiviere, chairwoman of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, said filling in 1,400 acres is excessive. "Any fill-in of the bay is unacceptable, not only to the environmental community, but also the public in general, I think. It would have to be mitigated to the degree that it would result in the entire South Bay salt ponds being given back to the public."

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Firm Designs Quiet Office Next to O'Hare Airport

PUBLICATION: Chicago Sun-Times
DATE: November 23, 1998
SECTION: Nws; Pg. 11
BYLINE: Becky Beaupre
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Sun-Times reports a manufacturer of ceilings and walls has made its Chicago training center into a "shrine of soundproofing" in office park next to O'Hare International Airport.

According to the article, the view outside Mike Murphy's fourth-floor office in Schiller Park could be the poster for the suburban anti- noise movement. Cars and trucks move along the crowded stretch of Mannheim Road. Airplanes -- so close the passengers are almost visible -- land one after another onto runway 27 Left at O'Hare Airport. To the east, Interstate 294 swarms with midday traffic. But the loudest sound in Murphy's office at USG Corp.'s new Training and Conference Center is the hum of the heating system. A vague, guttural rumble can be heard, but it sounds more like a distant truck than what it actually is: a jet landing about 50 yards away. "You can a hear a little bit more if you stand next to the window," offers Murphy, USG's products and systems education manager.

The article reports a leading manufacturer of ceilings and walls, Chicago-based USG had the resources to easily -- and relatively inexpensively -- turn its 15,000-square-foot training center into a veritable shrine to soundproofing. The center occupies the fourth floor of a USG building at Mannheim and Lawrence. Though the building is closer to O'Hare than just about any other in Schiller Park, it contains an exceptionally quiet fourth floor and a room that may be the area's quietest. The windowless videoconferencing center was designed to minimize distraction. The average level of outside noise in the room is estimated at 20 to 30 decibels, Murphy says. By comparison, homes that are soundproofed by the Chicago Department of Aviation are quieted to about 45 or 50 decibels of airplane noise, says Mark Fowler, executive director of the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, which distributes the money. Although other buildings close to O'Hare -- including two that share an office park with USG -- have been soundproofed, USG has taken the process several extra steps at its training center, Murphy says. Where three-fourths of an inch of sound-insulating wallboard might have been used, USG used an inch. Even small sound leaks were plugged. The effect is an oddly silent sanctuary in the heart of an area famous for its noise.

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Barberton, Ohio, Passes Noise Law Targeting Boomcars; Equipment and Vehicles May be Confiscated

PUBLICATION: The Plain Dealer
DATE: November 23, 1998
SECTION: National; Pg. 2A
BYLINE: Dick Feagler
DATELINE: Barberton, Ohio

The Plain Dealer published an editorial urging readers to move to Barberton, Ohio, to get some peace and quiet now that the town has passed a law authorizing the confiscation of car stereo equipment and vehicles from repeated noise offenders.

According to the article, Barberton got tired of the "thud-thud-thud of car-mounted boom boxes" driven through the streets by young residents. So the City Council recently passed a law that authorized the cops to confiscate the stereo equipment of noise offenders. If the noise offenders commit a second offense, the police now have the power to confiscate the speakers and the car they rode in on. "It started as a grassroots movement," Law Director Greg Macko told me. "Enough citizens got annoyed enough that they pushed the measure through council. It gave us the ability to declare the stereo equipment and even the vehicle as contraband."

The article states it's probably more accurate to label boom boxes "contraband of war," which Webster's Dictionary defines as "war material, as ammunition or weapons, which, by international law, may be rightfully seized by either belligerent when shipped to the other one ...." In the culture wars, rock 'n' roll music qualifies as war material as an assault weapon It is a fact, documented in the annals of warfare. During the Panama invasion, Manuel Noriega, Panama's leader, eluded American troops and took refuge in an embassy safe house. There seemed no diplomatic way to get him out until someone got the idea of surrounding the house with loudspeakers and bombarding Noriega's nerves with rock 'n' roll. Noriega just couldn't stand it and surrendered.

The editorial goes on to say the invention of the Sony Walkman should have freed us from the tyranny of second-hand noise. But most American youths rejected the Walkman. "In our culture of narcissism, making noise is no fun if nobody knows you are making it. It's much more ego-gratifying to slip behind the wheel of a thud-equipped assault vehicle and cruise the streets at night, making windows rattle and dogs bark." Barberton is not a theater of war and doesn't want to sound like one. "As far as I know, we haven't confiscated anybody's car or pickup truck yet," Law Director Macko said. "And if we do, some rights organization will probably challenge us and make a test case out of it." When that occurs, the writer says Barberton can count on him. "I will be in Barberton's corner, urging that the thud law be preserved and even strengthened. Barberton, here's three subdued cheers for you. Now, how about leaf-blowers?"

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St.Charles County, Missouri, Joins Cities in Lawsuit to Block Expansion and Noise at Lambert Field Airport

PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DATE: November 23, 1998
SECTION: St. Charles County Post, Pg. 1
BYLINE: Ralph Dummit
DATELINE: St. Charles, Missouri
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Joe Ortwerth, Charles County executive

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports St. Charles County, Missouri, has joined the cities of St. Charles and Bridgeton in taking legal action against expansion at Lambert Field Airport. The lawsuit objects to increased noise among other issues.

According to the article, the St. Charles County Council met Thursday in closed session and agreed to file legal action aimed at blocking the construction of a runway, approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The approved plan would be 2 miles closer to the city of St. Charles and bring descending aircraft lower by 450 feet or more over the city. County Counselor Joann Leykam said she expected to file a "petition of review" by Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th District. The petition is expected to outline the county's position that the procedure used by the FAA to choose W-1W (the runway project) was flawed, and that the new runway will not solve the airport's long-range need to expand capacity. The petition will stress the council's long-standing noise complaint. Similar petitions seeking the court's review of the FAA decision have been filed by the cities of Bridgeton and St. Charles. The county's petition is expected to be incorporated with those for review by the court.

The article reports the first objections in the county to the W-1W plan were expressed by County Executive Joe Ortwerth. In the summer of 1996, Ortwerth insisted that the FAA expand its study of alternate runway plans as only two plans were being given final consideration. Ortwerth's proposal that the FAA conduct a study of "all viable alternatives" was rejected by an FAA official. Ortwerth expressed concern then that a runway extending westward from the current terminal would increase noise to unacceptable levels. Ortwerth told the FAA in late June of 1996 that by restricting the number of runway plans to consider, "You will have conducted a bogus comparison of dubious alternatives." He intensified his campaign after a study was released two weeks later indicating that the average noise levels over parts of St. Charles could increase by 50 percent and that peak aircraft noise would be considerably worse. Ortwerth increased his efforts when the FAA released its final environmental impact statement that approved the W-1W expansion. In a 23-page formal comment dated Jan. 29, 1998, Ortwerth told the FAA that its environmental impact statement failed altogether to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. He called the impact statement "one of the most intellectually dishonest documents ever authorized by the federal government." He said that the purpose and need for the project "has been perverted," that a full range of alternatives had not been evaluated, that "adverse impacts have not been honestly examined" and finally that the contractor who prepared the environmental documents has a conflict of interest that "corrupts the EIS document and leaves it open to substantial legal challenge." Many of those allegations are included in the new petitions being filed by Bridgeton, St. Charles and the county.

The article states in contrast to Ortwerth's aggressive approach in opposition to W-1W, the County Council expressed concern in a resolution passed in 1996 about the potential noise problem but contended that airport expansion was necessary for the area's economic vitality. Lambert Director Leonard L. Griggs Jr. and representatives from the Regional Commerce and Growth Association visited St. Charles in an effort to persuade County Council members to get on the W-1W bandwagon. But instead, the council launched a campaign to persuade St. Louis (the owner of Lambert Field ) to sign an agreement to control aircraft noise over St. Charles County. With little success in that effort, the council then passed a resolution last month giving St. Louis 30 days to come up with a noise -control agreement, or litigation would follow. A letter Nov. 13 from Francis G. Slay, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, made it clear that no such agreement would be forthcoming. After last week's decision by the council to take the litigation route, Ortwerth said he was "extremely pleased." He recognized that the council's lengthy deliberation over the matter was done so "with a sincere desire to reach some amicable agreement with St. Louis over noise, if possible." But, he said, Slay's letter "verified what we already had determined, that such an agreement would not be enforceable."

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Noise, Growth, Aviation Marketplace, All Figure into Chicago Airport Debate

PUBLICATION: Chicago Tribune
DATE: November 23, 1998
SECTION: Editorial; Pg. 14; Zone: N
DATELINE: Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial contending a new group f business leaders is recasting the question of Chicago, O'Hare Airport, and growth in the aviation marketplace. Should the focus be on accommodating growth or attracting it?

According to the editorial, Mayor Daley's "leave-it-alone-we're-okay strategy" isn't viable for the future. A new coalition of business leaders is advocating that O'Hare International Airport be expanded so as to establish Chicago as the mid-continental hub of a booming global aviation market. "It is a bold, well-argued vision, even if it does rub salt on some of the exposed nerves of the region's body politic." Noise-weary residents are calling for caps on O'Hare flights while Republican political leaders insist the way to grow the area's capacity is to build a third airport in the suburbs.

The editorial contends a new business coalition, by reaffirming the potential for future growth, has helped recast the question that needs to be answered: "How best can the Chicago region maximize its share of the national and international aviation marketplace?" The writer believes this issue has been obscured by City Hall, which has tried to underestimate traffic forecasts to dampen prospects for a non-city airport. "The Daley administration's last forecast, based on bearish population estimates, concluded that O'Hare and Midway airports, combined, will need to accommodate only 53.5 million passengers by the year 2012." But the new Midwest Aviation Coalition study, conducted by Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc., shows O'Hare alone could handle that many with certain operational improvements. With a new set of runways and next-generation avionics, the coalition predicts O'Hare could handle 60 million passengers by 2020. The editorial states this prediction is despicable to the anti- noise activists. But the debate needs to focus on how best to capture as much job-generating traffic as possible. Expand O'Hare, as the business coalition argues? Build a third airport, as the governor's office wants? Or do both? (A third airport would free gates and slots at O'Hare for the international flights the business coalition covets.) Whatever is decided, Daley's leave-it-alone-we're-okay strategy simply doesn't compute for the long haul.

The editorial goes on to say the city does deserve some credit. "By their constant and imaginative upgrading of land-side facilities at the two airports, Daley and aviation Commissioner Mary Rose Loney have shown they understand full well how to milk the airport cow." While detractors complain about flight caps at O'Hare, they push ahead with valet parking, mall-style retailing and a Taste of Chicago lineup of restaurants. Currently, the city is adding a customs facility to its Midway expansion so as to serve the Caribbean trade. "That's how to play this game. The issue isn't how many flights the region can accommodate. It's how many we can get."

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Eightteen Years Later, Lawsuits Settled over Noise at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

PUBLICATION: The Associated Press State & Local Wire
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: State And Regional
DATELINE: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

The Associated Press State & Local Wire reports Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, last week settled a number of 18-year-old noise lawsuits involving the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

According to the article, Allegheny County last week settled lawsuits by 31 residents who sued 18 years ago over noise from a then-new runway at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Each resident received approximately $16,000, on top of attorneys' fees, engineering and appraisal costs and interest. The settlement cost is estimated at $1 million, said Dale Charochak, the county Department of Aviation's chief contract administrator. The county is expected to spend another $5.8 million this year on litigations as well as work to soundproof homes near the runways. To date, the county has settled 244 of 402 lawsuits filed after the construction of the runway in 1980, built with the approval of the Allegheny County Department of Aviation. Although a new airport terminal has been built since then, the 1980 runways continue to be used.

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Studio City, CA, Resident Criticizes Burbank Airport Authority for Neglecting Noise Mitigation

PUBLICATION: Los Angeles Times
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 14; Zones Desk
BYLINE: Martin Briner
DATELINE: Studio City, California

The Los Angeles Times published the following Letter to Editor from a resident who is critical of Burbank Airport Authority for he sees is a lack of effort to mitigate the airport's noise impact on nearby residents. The letter from Studio City, California, resident Martin Briner reads as follows:

"It is heartening to read an article such as "FAA Study for Burbank is Just Noise, " Nov. 15. The airport authority has given local residents no reason to believe that its "good faith" efforts are good for anything besides expansion and increased noise. It is frustrating that local communities have been battling the airport for so long with so little result. It is maddening to know that there are so many steps the airport authority could take to mitigate its noise impact.

"Here are a few: Mandatory curfew. Take off over the Sherman Way commercial / industrial corridor to the west, instead of over residential housing (this corridor is currently used for landing). Achieve the highest possible altitude on takeoff (some airliners fly so low over us that the house shakes). Prohibit the use of MD-80s; these turkeys are the loudest and should never be allowed to take off over residences. These are a few suggestions for starters.

"If the airlines think any of these measures would cost them money, then they should charge a slightly higher fare. This should be a small price to pay for local airport convenience that exacts a heavy toll on local residents in terms of quality of life. Other Southern California airports have flight patterns over populated areas. They have been known to implement strict curfews and modify flight patterns to mitigate their impact. The Burbank Airport Authority doesn't seem to have the will to accomplish such flight restrictions. It is up to local residents and their elected representatives to fight for reasonable measures to preserve our neighborhoods.

"My wife and I live in Studio City, which is several miles from the airport. The airport's impact on our community is tremendous. We are subjected to regular commercial and private jet overflights leaving Burbank from 6:40 a.m. until they finally end about 10 p.m. It is bad enough to endure this noisy barrage, but on some nights we are awakened by jet aircraft thundering overhead at midnight or even 3 a.m.

"Burbank officials have my sincerest thanks for their efforts to extract some sensibility from the airport authority."

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Environmentalists Protest Commercial Airport in Homestead, Florida; Noise and Pollution in Nearby National Parks at Issue

PUBLICATION: The New York Times
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: Section 5; Page 3; Column 1; Travel Desk
BYLINE: Mireya Navarro
DATELINE: Homestead, Florida

The New York Times reports plans for turning the Florida's Homestead Air Force Base into a commercial airport have hit turbulence from environmental groups concerned about noise and air and water pollution in two national parks.

According to the article, in the six years since Hurricane Andrew crippled the city of Homestead, south of Miami, officials here have struggled to jump-start the economy. But plans for turning the closed Homestead Air Force Base into a commercial airport have bogged down over the possible environmental damage to two nearby national parks. After gaining approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport plan is now undergoing further study to address concerns about how Biscayne National Park, two miles east of the base, and Everglades National Park, 10 miles to the west, would be affected by noise, air and water pollution from their new neighbor and the development expected to surround it. Plans call for the airport to handle more than 200,000 flights a year for passengers and cargo as well as attract new industry.

The article reports Miami-Dade County officials have supported the airport plan as a way of relieving some of the traffic at Miami International Airport, 30 miles to the north, while helping to revitalize hurricane-damaged area. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew inflicted more than $400 million in economic losses to the region; the Homestead Air Force Base, which provided about 5,000 military and civilian jobs, was so badly damaged that it had to close. In 1994 the base was converted into an Air Force Reserves installation with about 2,000 people that now occupies about a third of the former base's 3,000 acres. Homestead Mayor Steve Shiver said, "It's extremely important," he said, referring to the airport. "It's not the single savior but it definitely puts us on the right track." Federal studies to transfer 1,600 acres of the base to the county found the site compatible with a commercial regional airport, and the redevelopment plans won Miami-Dade County approval in 1996.

The article states conservationists, however, attacked the Federal Government's environmental report for failing to adequately address the effects on Biscayne National Park, a 180,000-acre aquatic park, and Everglades National Park, a wilderness park on 1.5 million acres of sawgrass marshes, pineland, and mangrove and cypress swamps. Critics see the airport proposal as undermining the Federal Government's own multimillion-dollar restoration project to preserve the Everglades. The opponents, including the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society, say noise from passenger jets would surpass what the National Park Service considers acceptable. They also worry about degradation of water quality in Biscayne Bay, fuel dumping and collisions with birds. Even now, they note, the air base is undergoing a petroleum cleanup after the United States Environmental Agency placed it on a priority list of polluted properties in 1990. Airport proponents counter that today's environmental laws would prevent such contamination again. Joseph Browder, a longtime Everglades conservationist, says the county should promote the area's natural offerings through eco-tourism and develop hotels and homes and the kind of tourism facilities that one would expect to find in such a place: "Instead of capitalizing on a location with two world-class national parks, the county wants to turn that area into an industrial complex."

The article states the environmental concerns have led the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration to review the project again, and the scope of the new study has been expanded to consider adverse effects on agriculture and tourism, air travel safety and traffic. The study is also looking into alternative uses for the site, including a theme park, a marine research center, a space launching facility, and other government and military use. Public hearings will be held on the study when it is completed, sometime next year.

The article goes on to report Miami-Dade County officials say they still hope to establish a commercial airport at the former Air Force base with minimal impact to the surroundings. They say they have been looking for 14 years for a site to accommodate overflow from Miami International. None of the county's three general aviation airports can be expanded, they said, because of their proximity to residential and business areas. The county has committed $25 million to the Homestead airport project for a new terminal and renovations. "You already have an airfield there," said Sandy O'Neil, an adviser to Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas. "It's not like we're going into the middle of the forest to build an airport."

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Illinois Town Considers Racetrack; Farmers Concerned about Noise and Drainage from Track

PUBLICATION: The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: News; Pg. A4
BYLINE: Edith Brady-Lunny
DATELINE: Maroa, Illinois
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Ken Bjelland, manager of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau

The Pantagraph reports many residents support a new racetrack in Maroa, Illinois, despite some concerns expressed by area farmers about impending noise pollution and drainage from the facility.

According to the article, many residents on both sides of the DeWitt-Macon county line are hopeful that a proposed $14 million racetrack will pass the first step Monday night when the Maroa City Council votes on annexing the land needed for the project. Maroa residents Tony and Tawnya Jackson plan to construct Maroa Motorsports on land two miles north of the city. A total of 141 acres of farmland lying between old and new U.S. 51 would need to be annexed to the city. The proposed racing facility would accommodate 9,000 spectators and feature racing sports ranging from drag to stock cars to skateboards. A horseshoe-shaped arena is designed to direct noise and air pollution in a northeastern direction away from Maroa, combating area residents' concerns of noise. Jackson said the majority of the funding needed will come from private investors. The remainder will be sought from state sources, including economic development grants and bank financing, he said. In what seems like a preventative move, the annexation request also includes a stipulation that new property and business owners sign a waiver agreeing not to sue over the existence of the facility.

The article reports although reaction from most residents at the meeting was positive, Ken Bjelland, manager of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, was among the minority who oppose the proposal. Bjelland said the racetrack raises several key concerns for area farmers, including drainage of farmland, noise pollution and the cost of providing services to the new business. While the local Farm Bureau has no plan to oppose the project, the organization will be following developments closely, said Bjelland. "It's not an issue now, but it may become one," he said.

The article states just who would benefit from racetrack tax revenues has been debated among county and township officials during the past week. Kevin Hammer, DeWitt County assistant state's attorney who specializes in land use issues, said he is studying the matter. DeWitt County will not be involved in zoning matters if the property is annexed to Maroa, but several other issues, such as maintenance of roads and additional county police patrols, have yet to be addressed, said Hammer. Sandra Moody, supervisor of assessments for DeWitt County, and Hammer believe the raceway could be a financial boon to DeWitt County, which is struggling with the threatened reduction of property tax revenue from the Illinois Power Co. nuclear plant. "It would drive the tax rate down, which is good," for all other residents of the county, explained Moody.

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Night Flights to Continue; UK Anti-Noise Groups Blast Government Decision

PUBLICATION: Press Association Newsfile
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: Home News
BYLINE: Peter Woodman
DATELINE: London, England
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Dermot Cox, chairman of Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise

The Press Association Newsfile reports anti - noise groups in the United Kingdom today bitterly attacked the Government's decision not to ban night flying at major airports in and around London, England.

According to the article, Aviation Minister Glenda Jackson, who made the ruling last week, had "decided that the suffering inflicted on UK citizens is of no consequence", said a Heathrow airport campaign group. The consultation process which led to the decision was "a sham", said the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise. Ms Jackson has ruled that a ban on flying between 11.30pm and 6am at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports would not be appropriate. Instead, the Government is proposing a series of measures which might lead to reduction in noise and flights at the three airports.

The article reports HACAN chairman Dermot Cox said: "Glenda Jackson's decision to continue night flights at Heathrow will be a severe disappointment for thousands of families across London who are consistently denied the possibility of getting the sleep they need. She has decided night flying must continue in order to allow British Airways to operate flights at night. This decision is another example of new Labour's true priorities: carrying out the wishes of big business. It was now acknowledged that night flights disturbed sleep patterns and that night curfews on flights was the only responsible action to take," he went on. "Instead, the Government proposes to tinker futilely with the problem. This is an abdication of the Government's duty to protect the health of UK citizens."

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Florida Citizens Petition for Peace and Quiet; Ask for Regulation of Water Scooters

PUBLICATION: St. Petersburg Times
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: Neighborhood Times; Pg. 15
BYLINE: Sheila Mullane Estrada
DATELINE: Madeira Beach, Florida
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Pamela Fagan, resident and petition organizer

The St. Petersburg Times reports a petition signed by residents of a Florida town who object to noise from water scooters has prompted the city to consider a new ordinance.

According to the article, more than 50 residents signed a petition that charges excessive and "abusive" commercial water traffic along a canal just north of John's Pass. City Manager Kim Leinbach told the commission a new a water scooter ordinance, now in draft form, is being prepared in response to the petition. The ordinance would regulate the number of water scooter rentals allowed at newly licensed businesses, as well as where new businesses may be located. However, the ordinance would have limited effect on existing personal watercraft rental businesses.

The article reports the petition specifically called for the city to "terminate the operating license" for two water scooter rental businesses on the canal: Jet Works Waverunners and Parasail; and Mad Beach Waverunners. Jet Works owner Mark Yaeger reacted sharply to the petition Friday, saying most of the problems are created by commercial fishing and charter boats. "I try to be a good neighbor and I don't want the animosity," he said. "I don't think they are being fair," he added. Yaeger said speeders come to the canal from other areas. Last winter he even hired a "canal patroller" to sit in the middle of the channel to remind renters to obey the no-wake zone. He stopped the practice, however, when residents complained about "loitering" in the canal. During the past three years, Yaeger said, he has rented personal watercraft 11,000 times. "In all that time, not one of our renters has been ticketed for excessive speed," he said. "I welcome the sheriff to come in here."

The article states among the problems listed by the petitioners are excessive and speeding boat traffic, engine smoke, fuel and oil spills, noise and property damage. Homeowners' property values have "eroded," said petition organizer Pamela Fagan, while the canal is "abused in pursuit of financial gain." In addition to complaints about personal watercraft rentals, Fagan also cited problems created by six charter boats that dock along the canal, and the "party or parties" who granted the commercial licenses to the marine-related businesses. "There is no longer any activity that we can enjoy in our back yards without the gawks, stares, noise and conversations of the tourists," she said, describing her neighborhood as a "blighted" eyesore. "The water condition has deteriorated from clear to filthy - constantly murky, muddy, stirred up, yuck brown and gross," she said. "Dolphins are rarely seen anymore. The manatees don't stand a chance of escaping injury or death." The commercial boating activity in the canal endangers residents and boaters alike, she said, and is damaging sea walls and residents' docks and boats. "The sea walls are being undermined by the constant speed and wakes displacing water and sucking and sifting our back yards through the seams and weep holes and into the canal," she said. "Our back yards are caving in behind the sea walls. Pilings, as well as the docks, are being undermined and stressed by the constant wakes. We are quiet, hard-working homeowners who pay cumulatively in excess of $200,000 in property taxes each year," she said. "We are weary of being denied the peace, privacy, and quiet enjoyment of our property."

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Editorial: Minn. Politics and Bureaucracy Nix Citizens' Chance in Fighting New Runway at Metropolitan Airport

PUBLICATION: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
DATE: November 22, 1998
SECTION: Doug Grow; Pg. 2B
BYLINE: Doug Grow
DATELINE: Richfield, Minnesota
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Jim Prosser, Richfield's city administrator; Bill and Audrey Duffee, residents

The Star Tribune published an editorial contending a Richfield, Illinois, couple who fought runway noise at the Metropolitan Airport, and lost, learned a bitter civics lesson involving the mixing of politics and bureaucracy.

According to the editorial, a Richfield couple, Bill and Audrey Duffee, have learned a major civics lesson, but they don't feel grateful. The Duffees found themselves in the midst of the civics lesson when the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) decided to build a north-south runway just two blocks from the house where the Duffees have lived for more than thirty years. The MAC contended that the low frequency noise generated by aircraft on the runway wouldn't have a significant impact on the lives of the Duffees or other Richfield residents or reduce property values. Low-frequency noise is the rumbling that creates vibrations. "Sure, the MAC seemed to agree, the dishes might rattle off the table. Pictures might shake off the walls. Nerves might get jangled. But, hey, nothing serious," according to the editorial.

The editorial states Richfield city officials and a number of concerned citizens such as the Duffees tried to make their concerns known to the MAC. They didn't try to stop construction of the runway, but they wanted the MAC to acknowledge that low-frequency noise would affect many lives in Richfield. That acknowledgment would make funds available to mitigate damages. "He who takes your quality of life ought to at least pay for it," is how Audrey Duffee phrased it. The MAC did have a study that showed that the concerned citizens are right: Low-frequency noise will have an impact on large numbers of people in Richfield and perhaps in Minneapolis and Bloomington, too. "But the MAC had a simple way of handling the study that supported the concerns of Richfield. Airport commissioners excluded it from their final report. Why let facts get in the way of a runway project?" asked the editorial. The editorial went on to say, "We Minnesotans are fortunate. We live in a progressive state filled with processes that give an illusion of fairness." Residents, including the Duffees, and Richfield civic leaders continued their quest with a hearing before the state's Environmental Quality Board (EQB), which is the supreme court of environmental decision-making in Minnesota.

The editorial went on to say "the EQB was born of noble intentions, but also pragmatic politics." Charles Dayton, an environmental attorney who worked for Richfield in the runway case, was one of the creators of the EQB 25 years ago. "In the beginning, people such as Dayton envisioned a board beholden only to facts, not special interests." Recalled Dayton: "It was going to be an independent agency. But people like Wendy Anderson [governor at the time] and some others insisted that we end up with this conglomerate we have now. It's never worked on environmental-impact statements." The EQB is made up of five citizens and 10 people who head various state agencies and departments. Included are the people who head the Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources, "people you might think would be inclined to be sensitive to noise pollution," the editorial states. But the 10 agency and department leaders are appointed by the governor. "Agency and department heads didn't get to the top because they're independent thinkers. They got to the top because they learned how to please the governor," the editorial contends. "They don't make decisions on the basis of fact," Dayton said of the agency and department heads. "They make decisions based on politics."

According to the editorial, this is the environmental/civics lesson the Duffees got when they appeared before the Environmental Quality Board: "Big business wants the runway. The governor, a friend of big business, wants the runway. The governor appointed the airport commissioners. The governor appointed the department heads and others who make up the EQB. You, I and the Duffees might call that conflict of interest. Government calls it business as usual." On Wednesday, the EQB said construction on the runway can begin without more study on the impact of low-frequency noise. "They're all in the same bed," Bill Duffee said of Minnesota government and big business. "It's like they're all having one big pajama party." Jim Prosser, Richfield's city administrator, was angry about the EQB's rubber-stamp approach to the environment late in the week. He talked of how big companies such as Northwest Airlines get representation from government. "But who represents the interests of people like the Duffees?" he asked.

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