Airport Noise Milestones
The Minnesota Legislature creates the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).
The MAC and the City of Minneapolis begin a study of sound insulation for homes near the airport. The study concludes that aircraft noise is a "major problem" for residents living near the airport.
The Minnesota Legislature enacts the Metropolitan Airport Planning Act which requires the MAC and the Metropolitan Council to project aviation demand for 30 years and evaluate two ways (the "dual track" planning process) to meet that demand. Two options are explored –
1. Develop a plan to continue to use the existing Minneapolis-St. Paul airport
2. Develop a plan for a replacement airport at a new location.
The MAC begins insulating homes suffering the greatest airport noise impact (noise higher than 65 decibel DNL in the 1996 airport activity projection).
The Minnesota Legislature stops the dual track study and determines that the current airport can be expanded to meet aviation needs beyond 2020. At the same time, the Minnesota Legislature directs the MAC to develop a noise mitigation plan that considers noise impacts lower than 65 DNL.
In response to the legislature’s directive and in an effort to gain approval for construction of a new runway, the MAC approves a noise mitigation plan that extends the existing sound insulation program at no cost to homes in Minneapolis, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Richfield and Bloomington that are impacted by more than 60 DNL.
The City of Minneapolis and the City of Eagan go on record stating that their support for retaining the current airport location is contingent upon providing sound insulation to at least the 60 DNL contour.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves construction of the new runway 17/35. One of the conditions for approval is implementation by the MAC of its 1996 Noise Mitigation Plan.
The MAC renegotiates airline lease agreements and identifies $150 million to fund noise insulation of homes in the 60 to 65 DNL impact areas. The Part 150 Noise Abatement Program update is initiated.
The MAC breaks ground for runway 17/35.
The MAC approves an insulation package for homes affected by noise above 60 decibel DNL and submits an updated Part 150 noise program for FAA review. The MAC indicates that it may spend less than the $150 million allocated for the 60 through 64 DNL area and retain the savings.
In December, the MAC rescinds its commitment to provide the five decibel reduction package to homes within the 2005 60 DNL noise contour and states its intention to reevaluate the use of the $150 million for noise mitigation within the 2005 60 DNL noise contour.
In January, the MAC submits a revised noise program in its Part 150 Update submission to the FAA which allows the MAC to expend less than $150 million on noise mitigation.
The Metropolitan Council adopts a resolution requiring the MAC to remove the offending language from its Part 150 Update to comply with conditions set in its March approval of the MAC capital improvements program. In response, the MAC notifies the Metropolitan Council that it has deleted the disputed language and reaffirms its commitment of $150 million for noise mitigation.
The Metropolitan Council approves the MAC’s capital improvement program on the condition that the MAC reaffirm its $150 million noise mitigation commitment for homes in the 60 through 64 decibel DNL.
The MAC approves a new Noise Exposure Map based on new assumptions that reduce the number of homes eligible for sound insulation by approximately 25 percent.
In November, the MAC votes to scale back its Part 150 noise mitigation program for homes within the 60 through 64 decibel DNL contour. The scaled back $48 million program means sound insulation would no longer be provided. Instead, the MAC offers air conditioning to affected homes that do not already have central air. Homeowners are now expected to pay up to half the cost of air conditioning. Additionally, no noise mitigation — not even air conditioning — will be offered to multi-family homes in the 60 through 64 DNL contour.
The City of Minneapolis announces its intent to sue the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
In April, the Cities of Minneapolis, Eagan and Richfield and the Minneapolis Housing Authority file suit against the MAC claiming that the MAC is in violation of the terms of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. City of Minneapolis, et al vs. MAC, et al
A class action lawsuit is filed in September on behalf of Minneapolis and Richfield homeowners claiming that the MAC made an enforceable promise to provide noise mitigation within the airports 60 through 64 DNL (day/night noise level) contour. Wiencke et al vs. MAC
Runway 17/35 opens in October. The runway is part of a $3.1 billion expansion program that allows the airport to accommodate future operational increases.
In Aug., the court grants class certification to homeowners in portions of Minneapolis and Richfield.
On January 25, the court issues a partial ruling in favor of the cities finding that the MAC did violate an environmental standard.
The cities’ lawsuit goes to trial in February, and final arguments are heard on March 21.
The court rules in March that the class action lawsuit can move forward. In June, the class action trial is postponed because the MAC proposes a settlement.
The cities submit a settlement proposal to the MAC on July 23.
After lengthy negotiations, the MAC votes unanimously to approve a proposed settlement agreement with the cities on October 15.
Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan unanimously ratify the proposed settlement with the MAC at their respective City Council meetings on October 16.
Judge Aldrich approves the consent decree on October 19.
On November 30, the Federal Aviation Authority approved the request from the MAC for an opinion letter stating that the MAC could legally spend up to $127.6 million to provide noise relief to affected homes in Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan as part of noise mitigation lawsuit settlement.
On January 15, Judge Aldrich approves the class action settlement which is structured to match the settlement terms of the cities’ $127.6 million settlement.
Updated Jan. 17, 2008
Last updated Sep. 27, 2011