ELMHURST – About 40 Elmhurst community members attended the Public Affairs and Safety Committee meeting July 24, prompting a move from the scheduled conference room, No. 4, to the Council Chambers. They were all there for a discussion on a proposed resolution addressing the O'Hare Fly Quiet and Runway Rotation program, according to a show of hands.
The third runway rotation test at O'Hare International Airport includes a 12-week schedule, which started July 23 and is scheduled to continue through Oct. 15.
Three residents spoke during public comment: Nick Parisi, Monica Anderson and Monica's husband, Jim Anderson.
"Our property values are being suppressed because of the noise and because of the airplanes," Jim said.
The Andersons have lived in Elmhurst for 13 years, Monica said in a phone interview after the meeting. In addition to the 126 people who signed a petition opposing the runway rotation testing before the July 24 meeting, Monica said she has received another 75 emails from people who wanted to add their names to the petition.
Alderman Scott Levin, the committee chairman, said the city has been active about addressing concerns about the runway rotation.
"We’re all residents here. We all share the same concerns. ... The City Council has not been asleep at the switches," Levin said.
Elmhurst is on the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission and the Suburban O'Hare Commission, but there are many more representatives at those tables coming from suburbs that are east or west of the airport, Mayor Steve Morley said.
“We’re very vocal in our opposition and we do attend all the meetings, but we’re in the minority," Morley said.
For example, the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission has at least 70 seats, and the city of Elmhurst has one, alderman Bob Dunn said. Morley has sent a letter to the Chicago Department of Aviation and sent a copy to the Federal Aviation Administration, Dunn said.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying...[or] be less vocal in our opposition. ... [But] it’s a bit of an uphill battle for us," Morley said.
The committee opened the conversation to the attendees to ask questions, which is uncommon at Elmhurst committee meetings.
Responding to a question about what might happen after the third runway rotation test, Morley said it cannot be "arbitrarily" extended and it would need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, but there is a chance an extension could be approved.
“There’s no reason to think that [an extension of the runway rotation] can’t happen," he said.
The committee plans to draft a resolution, even though members have limited expectations for its impact. Levin said he was not sure if the resolution – a formalized, official statement on the city's position on the issue – would accomplish much more than what has already been done.
Morley said expectations need to be realistic, and Dunn said the resolution or another letter from the mayor may have some impact but would not prompt "decisive action."
“It’s a statement by the city of Elmhurst on our position and the way we feel on this topic. I think it will give us a little more firm ground on which to discuss the problems with this runway rotation program," Dunn said.
The Chicago Department of Aviation encourages Elmhurst residents to visit the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission's website at oharenoise.org to get more information about eligibility for the Residential Sound Insulation Program and the schedule for meetings, which are open to the public and public comment.
To voice opposition to the runway rotation, residents can contact U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, at quigley.house.gov, file a noise complaint at 800-435-9569 or chicagonoisecomplaint.com, or complete a Chicago Department of Aviation Fly Quiet survey at surveymonkey.com/r/872FZNF.
To learn more about the third runway rotation test at O'Hare International Airport, visit airportprojects.net/flyquiettest/about. To learn more about the runway rotation program, visit oharenoise.org.