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First Meeting on O'Hare Noise Set for Monday

By Heather Cherone | June 26, 2015 5:33am | Updated on June 26, 2015 8:06am
 An advocacy group acknowledged little action has been taken on local jet noise complaints.
An advocacy group acknowledged little action has been taken on local jet noise complaints.
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Flickr/ Jim Wissemes

O'HARE — City officials will meet Monday with Northwest Side residents angry about the constant roar of planes over their houses — 21 months after a new runway opened and sent hundreds of jets over their homes every day.

The first of three meetings with members of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition to discuss ways to reduce jet noise will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Chicago Department of Aviation, 10510 W. Zemke Road. The group contends the noise has lowered property values and made it impossible for Northwest Side residents to watch television, sleep or enjoy their yards

While Jac Charlier, a member of the coalition's leadership team said the meeting is open to the public, and all members of the coalition are invited to attend, Karen Pride, a spokeswoman for the Department of Aviation, said the meeting was invitation only.

The group has been pressing city officials to change the flight paths that have sent hundreds of flights over parts of the Northwest Side that heard little or no jet noise before October 2013, when a new east-west runway opened.

The meetings were set by an agreement brokered by several state lawmakers after the legislature rejected a bill authored by state Sen. John Mulroe (D-Norwood Park) that would have prevented airport officials from dismantling the runway that many residents see as the last chance to spread out the air traffic — and reduce the racket over the Northwest Side.

"This will be a long-overdue community conversation," Charlier said.

The agenda for the meeting has not yet been set, Charlier said.

However, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not scheduled to attend the meeting, despite the coalition's repeated requests that he sit down with them and discuss possible solutions.

A mayoral spokesman did not respond to requests for comment Thursday from DNAinfo Chicago.

Instead, Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans will attend the meeting, making this her first opportunity to hear directly from Northwest Side residents incensed by the new flight paths to and from O'Hare Airport.

"This is an issue of democracy," Charlier said. "Ginger Evans is not interchangeable with the mayor."

The two additional meetings have yet to be scheduled, Charlier said.

Until the meetings are complete, city aviation officials have promised to hold off on dismantling the diagonal runway set to be taken out of service Aug. 20 to make way for another east-west runway scheduled to open Oct. 15.

That runway could send even more air traffic over Edison Park, Norwood Park, Jefferson Park, North Park and Sauganash, according to the coalition.

In April, 408,468 complaints were filed with city officials — an all-time record and a more than 15 percent increase from the number of jet noise complaints filed in March, according to data released by the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission.

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