O'HARE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a measure Wednesday that would add a seat on the O'Hare noise commission to represent residents of the 40th Ward.
Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) said he requested a seat on the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, which is charged with keeping tabs on the noise caused by jets flying to and from O'Hare International Airport, because North Side residents are lodging an increasing number of complaints about planes using the new east-west runway.
"Some of our residents in the 40th Ward are struggling with aircraft noise,” O’Connor said. “I hear those concerns."
The addition, which is expected to be approved by the council in September when it returns from its August recess, would bring the commission to 54 members, six of whom represent Chicago. The 36th, 38th, 39th, 41st and 45th wards already have seats on the commission.
O'Connor said he would work with the other members of the commission "to balance the quality of life of residents in the 40th Ward with O’Hare’s economic importance for our region."
Part of the $6.6 billion O'Hare Modernization Program, approved in 2001, the new runway allows planes to take off and land without crossing paths with other jets while on the ground, which is designed to allow the airport to operate more safely and efficiently, federal aviation officials said.
Noise from the jets using the new runway has blanketed the Northwest Side, prompting an outcry from residents of neighborhoods that heard little to no jet racket before the new runway opened and blame the jets for significantly reducing their quality of life.
The number of complaints to the city-run toll-free noise hotline run by the commission rose 645 percent from March 2013 — before the new runway opened— to March 2014, according to the most recent data released by the commission.
Residents of the 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park and Edison Park, filed the highest number of complaints of any Chicago ward, logging 1,634 objections to the sound of planes taking off and landing at O'Hare.
Residents of the 45th Ward filed 889 complaints, while those in the 39th Ward filed 825 complaints.
Those reports do not include the number of complaints lodged by residents of the 40th Ward, which includes parts of the West Ridge, Andersonville, Edgewater, Rogers Park, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood neighborhoods.
“As the O’Hare Modernization Program moves forward, it is imperative that the makeup of the commission reflect all residents potentially affected by aircraft noise,” Emanuel said.
O’Connor is the mayor's floor leader, and one of the most powerful members of the City Council.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) called for the FAA to hold a new round of public meetings on the impact of O'Hare noise on neighborhoods, saying studies 10 years ago did not make it clear that the new runway would send hundreds of flights over homes in neighborhoods like Wildwood and Jefferson Park.
O'Connor is a co-sponsor of a measure that calls for aviation officials to appear before the City Council to answer questions about what can be done to reduce the racket caused by planes. The council has taken no action on that proposal, and a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: