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Residents, City Council Attack FAA Airplane Reroute Decision

Plan proposes more overflights for fewer people.

In a decision likely to upset some Southwest Minneapolis homeowners but please others, a committee that advises the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) on airplane noise voted to endorse an FAA plan to reroute flights over Southwest Minneapolis.

The FAA hopes to use two new technologies, called RNAV and PBN, to shunt flights into narrow departure corridors. The technology will make air traffic control safer, the FAA says.

See the numbers of planes .

Southwest Minneapolis' legislators are attacking the proposals and calling for more time.

"It's a quality of life issue," Fulton resident Sara Thompson told Patch.

Thompson and her block are trying to organize their fellow Minneapolitans to lobby MAC representatives and state legislators to block the implementation of new systems, at least for now. They appear to live right under one of the proposed new flight paths, and have started circulating a petition opposing the changes and calling for more study of their impact.

"Maybe this technology will need to go forward," she said, "But we need to have a discussion about where they’ll go. When they rebuilt the Crosstown Highway, there were many more discussions and opportunities for public input."

Thompson hit out at what she believes was the FAA's failure in publicizing the changes. She said she and her neighbors only found out about the public hearings a week before they were to take place. When Thompson tried to find out more information about the changes from the MAC officials and the Noise Oversight Commission, she said she was given incomplete and confusing information.

"What makes me angry is that it’s not my job or my expertise to sort through this and figure this out," she said. "If they want to reassure us it won’t be that terrible, they should let us know. If it’s really going to be that terrible, they should tell us what they’ll do to mitigate that."

According to Minnesota Public Radio , many people testifying at Wednesday's meeting of the Noise Oversight Committee repeated Thompson's charge.

According to the Star-Tribune, Minneapolis City Councilmembers echoed that sentiment in interviews Thursday.

“I’m part of the (city's) airport working group and I feel like I’m totally confused," Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) told the Star-Tribune.

The Noise Oversight Commission will hear complaints from Minneapolis officials about the public engagement process on Monday, the paper reports, citing City Councilmember John Quincy (Ward 11) .

Hogan, the MAC spokesperson, said communications problems were sometimes exacerbated by the different authorities responsible for the airport. The Noise Oversight Committee was not technically part of MAC but rather an independent advisory body, and the navigation technology changes are the FAA's responsibility, he said. 

"They're the ones with the authority to move airplanes around the airport," he said. "We rely a lot, in any case, on the cities with representatives on the Noise Committee to reach out to their constituents to let people know what's going on."

So far, it appears that Thompson's and others' lobbying efforts will bear fruit—Southwest Minneapolis’ state Sen. Scott Dibble told Patch in a phone interview that he and other local legislators oppose the MAC decision.

MAC will vote next week on whether to endorse the technology changes sought by the FAA, MPR reports . If it does not endorse the changes by the end of November, it reports, the FAA will have to delay implementing the changes for at least a year.

Fabuladico November 17, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Think of it as a bad news/good news kind of thing. The bad news, is that for a while, there will be a lot of added noise. I grew up in Bloomington, near the old Met Stadium (now MOA), and we grew accustomed to stopping conversations to let jets roar by. The good news? Eventually, MAP remodled everyone's house for noise abatement; new windows, doors, soundproof insulation and so on. Yep, life will be different alright.
James Sanna November 17, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I wonder if there'd be a way to claim that granite countertops were necessary for noise abatement?

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