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Elmhurst mayor voices disapproval of plan rotation test causing noise over village

Published: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 9:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 8:41 a.m. CDT
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley delivers his fourth State of Our City mayoral address at the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Membership Breakfast Jan. 10, sponsored and hosted by the Community Bank of Elmhurst. Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley said he's not a fan of a test that is designed to more evenly distribute nighttime airplane noise across northwest Chicago and the communities that surround O'Hare International Airport.

Morley sent a letter dated Jan. 12 to Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans urging the CDA to ditch the rotation plan and stick with its standard practice of "using preferred routes which are intended to direct aircraft over less-populated areas, such as forest preserves, highways, and commercial and industrial areas."

The Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan was implemented by the CDA July 6 and ran through Dec. 25 of last year.

The plan covered the overnight hours at O'Hare and consisted of schedule rotating the use of departure and arrival runways over 12 weekly periods with the aim of a more balanced distribution of jet noise, according to the CDA's website.

Morley said the test resulted in a"significant increase in noise" over the city and particularly the northern portion of Elmhurst.

"We received significant complaints. Written, verbal, people came to our meetings," he said. "Elmhurst residents were not happy with the test."

Many communities that belong to the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, which is an inter-governmental agency dedicated to reducing aircraft noise in municipalities around the airport, complained of excess noise following the opening of an east-west runway at O'Hare in 2013.

Morley said that Elmhurst, on the other hand, experienced significant relief from jet-related noise following the opening of that runway.

"O'Hare is designed to run east-west and we don't support runway rotation," Morley said.

He also described the rotation plan as inefficient and a waste of time and money. Throughout the test, the CDA collected noise data and feedback from residents.

"Communities such as Elmhurst will have the opportunity to comment on and or vote on any future Fly Quiet Rotation Plan through the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission meetings," wrote Owen Kilmer, the CDA's Deputy Commission for communications, in an emailed statement sent in reply to a request for comment on Morley's letter.

Morley said he would like to see the department continue to implement the multi-billion dollar O'Hare Modernization Plan as it was originally presented to Elmhurst officials a decade ago.

They mayor did acknowledge that the way Elmhurst residents feel about the test may not be the same as residents in other communities. He said the CDA and the Federal Aviation Administration are caught in the middle of a difficult situation to navigate.

"I'm not saying it's an easy problem," he said. "The CDA are in a position where they can't make everyone happy."

To learn more about the test, visit airportprojects.net/flyquiettest.

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