St. Charles wants a ‘seat at the table’ in O’Hare noise discussions

St. Charles wants a ‘seat at the table’ in O’Hare noise discussions

St. Charles is poised to join dozens of communities in a decadeslong fight to mitigate airplane noise stemming from O’Hare International Airport.

The government services committee on Monday unanimously supported an agreement to become part of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, an intergovernmental agency aimed at addressing sound issues around the airport. If the city council ratifies the vote next week, the commission will decide Oct. 4 whether to add St. Charles to its membership of 43 towns and 22 school districts.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

There are no costs associated with joining the agency, and the impact on the city staff and resources would be minimal, Public Works Director Peter Suhr said. Resident Richard Lewis, who has been involved in discussions with city leaders on the topic, volunteered to act as a liaison for the community — a role that would include attending commission meetings and reporting back to the city periodically.

“I thought it was a win-win for all of us here to have somebody who’s interested in this concept to represent the city,” Mayor Ray Rogina said. “I think it’s worth our while. I think it’s a good time to jump on board something like this.”

Aldermen first considered joining the commission in 2015 at the request of a single resident, who hoped to petition the Federal Aviation Administration to restrict air traffic over the city. Officials ultimately decided against getting involved due to a low number of citizen complaints and the city’s distance from the airport, Suhr said.

But St. Charles has heard from more residents as flight patterns changed over the years, he said, and other nearby towns — most recently Bartlett and Wayne — have since joined the commission’s efforts.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

“That’s telling us this discussion is being had in communities this far west of O’Hare, and maybe it’s our time to be part of this group as well,” Suhr said. “This will give us an opportunity to tell the residents that we’re doing everything we can and that we have a voice at the table.”

The commission was created in 1996 after Chicago officials invited suburban mayors to begin “constructive dialogues” on aircraft noise problems, according to its website. The agency has four standing committees: technical, fly quiet, residential sound insulation, and school sound insulation.

Now is a crucial time for St. Charles to be involved in those discussions, given a “tremendous transformation” taking place at O’Hare, said Lewis, who is also Alderman Maureen Lewis’ brother-in-law.

The commission is developing a runway rotation plan to be implemented after the airport’s sixth and final east-west runway is built in November 2020 and an existing runway is expanded. An interim runway rotation plan aimed at providing relief from nighttime noise is expected to be put in place later this year.

“We’re not a most affected community, by any means,” Lewis said, pointing to towns such as Wood Dale, Addison and Bensenville where the problems are more significant.

“But a seat at the table is worth something so (that) they do not totally ignore us as we go forward.”

Published at Tue, 27 Aug 2019 01:57:33 +0000