42 communities and 19 school districts dedicated to reducing aircraft noise in the communities around O’Hare International Airport since 1996.

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The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and representatives of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) will meet with community noise groups for the third and final time on July 31 under the terms of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The CDA has proposed that “ONCC provide a forum for direct citizen engagement with the noise commission in order to reflect residents’ concerns in any recommendations presented to the CDA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for consideration.”

“As ONCC chair, I have pledged to build consensus and promised that noise commission meetings would allow for more open dialog,” responded  Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene A. Juracek.   “This new role for the noise commission ‘as a forum for direct citizen engagement’ within the parameters of the ONCC Intergovernmental Agreement will surely open up new avenues for discourse. While consensus may or may not always be reached, I promise community views will be presented to the CDA and FAA.”

The CDA posted white papers on their website Friday in direct response to noise-weary citizens’ questions and demands expressed at the first two meetings. Documents can be found at: (http://goo.gl/rtwgKg). According to the MOU (which was drafted in response to a resolution of the Illinois legislature), the CDA was to hold three meetings before August 1 with community groups who have been campaigning to keep O’Hare diagonal runways open. The groups previously met on June 29 and July 20.

“ONCC cannot reasonably comment on the contents of the CDA white papers until there is time to digest the documents,” said Juracek.  “We respect CDA Commissioner Ginger Evans’ aviation expertise and experience and will carefully read and assess the reports. Our plan is to use the materials and information to develop an agreed upon set of workable tools that will underpin a  proposed update to nighttime noise abatement procedures. These would be based on interim airfield conditions after the new southern runway is commissioned.”

Juracek said that ONCC will form an ad hoc committee, in addition to the citizen forum, which will engage a broad constituency and base its work on the CDA reports.  The ad hoc committee will work with the aviation department to provide recommendations on initiatives to further mitigate noise impacts, which would eventually be presented to the FAA for approval.

“Developing interim condition procedures will not be a quick process,” said Juracek.  “ONCC, which represents 1.3 million Chicago and suburban citizens, will include input from the Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC) and Fair Allocation in Runways (FaiR) Coalition within the scope of ONCC membership. This committee will report its progress regularly and all meetings will be open to the public. “

Juracek envisions that the ad hoc committee would hear presentations from CDA and SOC consultants, as well as other aviation experts knowledgeable in aircraft noise abatement. While the over-riding goal is to mitigate noise impacts, the group would work under the guidelines of technical feasibility, safety, sound operational policies and economic development practices. 

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