a digest of
Noise Abatement Policy Study
O'Hare International Airport
400 West Madison Street,
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Matthew L. Rockwell, Executive Director
Lee M. Burkey, President
Robert F. Olson, Vice President
Waldemar A. Rakow, Secretary
Fred M. Dumke, Treasurer
Appointed by the Governor of Illinois
Richard F. Babcock Woodstock
Attorney, Ross, Hardies, O'Keefe,
Babcock, McDugald & Parsons
John W. Baird Winnetka
President, Baird & Warner, Inc.
Frank H. Bellinger Wheaton
Member, DuPage County
Board of Supervisors
Lee M. Burkey LaGrange
President, Village of LaGrange
Floyd T. Fulle Des Plaines
Commissioner, Cook County
Board of Commissioners
Albert D. McCoy Aurora
Mayor, City of Aurora
Mrs. Laura K. Pollak Highland Park
Past President, Illinois League
of Women Voters
Richard Withers Blue Island
Mayor, City of Blue Island
Appointed by the Mayor of Chicago
Ira J. Bach Chicago
President, Urban Associates
Fred M. Dumke Oak Lawn
President, Village of Oak Lawn
Wilson Frost Chicago
Alderman, Chicago City Council
Theris Gabinski Chicago
Alderman, Chicago City Council
Lewis W.Hill Chicago
Commissioner, Chicago Department
of Development & Planning
Appointed by the County Board Chairman
Frank W. Chesrow Chicago
Member, Cook County Board
C. LeRoy James
President, DuPage County Forest
Downers Grove 1973
Waldemar Rakow Elgin
Member, Kane County Board
Earle Harrison Libertyville
Member, Lake County Board
Robert F. Olson Woodstock
Member, McHenry County Board
Herman L. Olivo Joliet
Member, Will County Board
NOISE STUDY TECHNICAL ADVISORY
Commissioner Floyd T. Fulle, Chairman
Cook County Board of Commissioners
Jack D. Pahl, Vice-Chairman
President, Village of Elk Grove
Mayor, City of Des Plaines
Edward E. Bluthardt
State Representative — 2nd District,
Mayor, Village of Schiller Park
Sylvester A. Chapa ._, . . A ..
Chief of Planning, Federal Aviation Administration
James D. Cole
President, Cole Dynamics
Region Five, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Captain Richard W. Heller
Region III Safety Chairman
Air Line Pilots Association (Alternate: Lee Imbrie)
Commissioner Lewis W. Hill
City of Chicago, Dept. of Development & Planning
(Alternate: Robert Hayes)
George W. Kamperman
Regional Manager, Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc.
Paul C. Leonard
Regional Manager, .
Central Operations Office, Air Transport Association
J. R. "Jake" Levesque .
Assistant Director, State of Illinois,
Dept. of Aeronautics (Alternate: Dan L. Smith)
Walter G. Metschke
Chief of Aviation Planning, City of Chicago
Dept. of Aviation (Alternate: Charles J. Connor)
Commissioner H. W. Poston nn „ frnl
City of Chicago, Dept. of Environmental Control
(Alternate: Cosimo Caccavari)
Herman C. Spahr
City Manager, City of Park Ridge
Chief Engineer, City of Chicago
Dept. of Public Works (Alternate: Donald M. Pries)
Paul R. Thomas
President, Village of Glenview
John D. Varble
President, Village of Bensenville
(Alternate: Richard A. Young)
Attorney at Law (O'Hare Area Noise Abatement Council
Ma 3 yoT City % of Elmhurst (Alternate: Robert T. Palmer)
Jack B. Williams
Mayor, Village of Franklin Park
(Alternate: James M. Demos)
William C. Boyd
Noise Study Project Director,
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
A DIGEST OF
METROPOLITAN AIRCRAFT NOISE ABATEMENT POLICY STUDY:
O'HARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS PAGE
Control of Aircraft Noise at its Source 9
O'Hare Airport Planning and Zoning
Regional Airport System Planning 11
Local Planning and Zoning
Development Limitations in NEF Areas 15
Noise Easements and Avigation Rights
Land Acquisition and Redevelopment 21
Administrative Practices for Dealing
with Aircraft Noise 22
This digest summarizes a technical report produced under contract by the
Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission for the federal Department of
Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation, July, 1971.
The contents reflect the views of the contractor, who is responsible for the
facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein, and do not necessarily
reflect the official views or policy of the HUD or DOT.
ORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS PLANNING COMMISSION - 400 W. Madison St. - Chicago, II. 60606
4m, ,res, mariison street . Chicago. Illinois uoaao ■ (312) anclmrr H-l2(Hi
October 21, 1971
TO THE PEOPLE OF NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS:
The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission studied the problem of
P~d n0i T L ar0Und °' H r AirP ° rt and a r<?POrt °" 'his studyhas been
z p *:tzio7:z7sT aons for aiieviatin9 tha noise «»■««• -
quieter jet engines, higher flight patterns and fewer fltahtsMo^
Copies of the study have been sent to ail ,.,>,„ ,
the recommendations- Congress ^f^ ^ a "" " P ° SiU ° n tC> im P 1<? ">ent
in the O'Hare vicinity hosni £f f °^ ^ ag ° a " d Suburban municipalities
real estate developers' Each 1 ^ adminlstrat °^ and O'Hare area
the problems ^ " SP6ClfiC role to ^ in h ^P'ng to solve
noise is, compared^^ther p U f bUc 1 p robremr rtam ^ ' UeWl ' tl0n ° f ^
■scr r«tu M UUMKE, Ms/or o/ Oak (.awn ■ Finvn T nnV 7 , ^ ' l " KA NKBEL
oner oi Planning ■ r LeRnv i»Mr' A n / L0YD '■ FULLE, Cook County Board • EARLF I
Seoa.o, ■ HARRr SEMROW. Coo, C„„„, y s„,0 R^ARD,
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
CARLI: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois
The statements in this digest combine and abridge the more detailed
statements of findings, conclusions, and recommendations contained in
the full report on noise impact from O'Hare Airport on the surrounding
communities Each of the four main sections of the report was undertaken
as an independent work task, and each contains recommendations developed
as a result of the findings and conclusions in that work task. Some similar
or overlapping recommendations may remain.
Every effort has been made to make each of the recommendations in
his digest accurate generalizations of the several specific recommenda-
tions it combines. However, the needs of some readers may require that
the several related and detailed statements in Sections 2 through 5 of the
full report be located and used instead of statements from this digest or
from the summary (Section 1) of the full report.
The complete report, Metropolitan A ircraft Noise Abatement Policy Study -
O Hare International Airport, Chicago . TlHnnis Ts S^ISbte foTln^cTIon
at the offices of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, 400 West
Madison, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Xerox copies of the report are available
52flVp°n,l p f $3 ;° D ° P , 6r COPY fr ° m thG National Technical Information Service,
5^85 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22151.
At the world's busiest airport-Chicago O'Hare Inte^Uonal ^Airport-
]et airliners land and take off at an average rate of one a minute.
As of 1965, an estimated 300,000 people lived in noise-im P»<*£«« M
complain of aircraft noise. Half the compiami hosDitals, students
miles out. Most seriously affected are patients in ten ho pital s ^
in 181 schools, and the occupants ^/'"^f^timpacted area will
new runways will have been constructed, and the noise-imp
be enlarged to include the homes of half a million persons.
noise-impacted areas near u nare. , chopping centers, and
includes a hotel-motel convention row, se ™™ 1 ^*^™ id ; oi do wntown
more than half of the region's new ma 3 or office space outside
noise-impacted areas if present trends conti ^ued to ^ 9 M
cipated worsening of the problem will be due toi oise e gulfm
residential neighborhoods. Limiting noise at the source seems
greater opportunities for improvement.
* If aircraft landing and takeoff angles were made
steeper, the 1975 population impacted by noise
would be 364,900 instead of 518,600.
* If in addition to changes in aircraft operations,
the existing engines were lined with -Bound-
absorbing material, the 1975 population living in
noise-impacted areas would be 188,800.
If the changes in aircraft operations were com-
bined with engines of a quieter design, noise-
impacted areas would be reduced even further
Although this could not be accomplished by 1975
the theoretical effect of such a change by 1975 '
to°i3 d 9 b rnn° Ved T e '^ nois *- im P*cted population
to 139, 100-or less than half of the number of
people affected by noise in 1965.
dwellings in area., of „n„h*i i ' 0t for new sl ngle-family
codes couid require sounded "V*™ ^ ™ PaCt - Local build 'ng
buildings, butlhfcode could ZT T™* Standards f ° r " ew rental
structures. " 0t le9ally require thls ln owner-occupied
seritTalrcTafr noise ^blemf' c'^T " ^°^ '" areas with
areas if changes a e made in ai'rc ? f °" S ""* ImprDve in SOme of the -
this can be de'mon" it s^l^^Z!^ T^^' ^
hospitals, or schools. necessary to limit construction of residences,
reservoirs, golf courses L7L 7 ° r ° pen space uses - including flood
port grounds "will Remove some of the m^t ' ^^ eXPanSi ° n ° f *" air "
the market. So will the D °™ °h f, A ."^"^Pacted vacant land from
growth of industrTand commie Elgin "° Hare f — ^ ""d the p roj ected
a PO^MMetn^ited'Tolutio" *? fT? T*" " ltt ™ «>'"' *
hoods indicate thThomt " ou"d b^ ha^d TaT "^t"" 91 neighbOT "
present owners, and razed if thM.nl f market price to the
commercial purposes A h '„ 1 » land Jfe redeveloped for industrial or
sider such redTelopmen on . fsma,7 ^ \ COnomioa1 ^ feasible to con-
exist for condemnanTn based on er «' "' '"' ^ aUthorlty does " ot
noise, and the Pol^^^'X^.r £^ST "* "
exposure forecasts tor trie m staie ic-yx^ ,. K1 _. nd ** i an d
could be minimized.
tion in the Problem, or progressive worsening in the next few years.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Mapping Noise Exposure
noise. These maps, supplied r>y me inr i u des many aggravating
derive levels of noise exposure in a formula hat *%£>£ s ™™ m ™ Bae of
factors in addition to the loudnes V^nX Exposure Fo recast." For
exposure to aircraft noise Is called the No ^e Exposure ^
purposes of mapping ^^^'"^ °^^st impacted by noise,
XX&^Z&^W"* !■» impacted hy noise.
Five Noise Exposure Forecast maps were ^^^IZlseV^
of the 40 and 30 NEF areas in 1965. A »£>? ™J B 'f£ u u of new runway
type and use. This 1975 "Baseline" forecast does not take into account
any changes in aircraft engines or flight operations for the sake of noise
reduction. The remaining three Noise Exposure Forecast maps are also
tor 1975, and assume three alternative conditions in which noise is reduced
by means of changes in aircraft flight operations and engine modifications.
The maps of the study area are divided into six pie-shaped sectors
radiating from O'Hare, with each sector generally centered on one of the
mam runways .
Selected Data for Noise-Impacted Areas
Assuming no noise reduction between 1965 and 1975 due to changes in
aircraft flight operations or engine modifications, (1975 Baseline condi-
tions) the amount of noise-impacted land will increase 33 percent, and
the number of people living in noise-impacted areas will increase by 68
Land Area and Populati on in Noise-Impacted Areas, 1965 and 1975
Extent of Impact
in 40 NEF areas
in 3 NEF areas
in 40 NEF areas
in 30 NEF areas
20 sq. mi.
.60 sq. mi.
80 sq. mi.
27 sq. mi.
80 sq. mi.
107 sq. mi.
The increase in population in already noise-impacted areas due to new
residential construction would be 57,750 under the 1975 Baseline condi-
tions. As many as 9,250 of these would move into existing 40 NEF areas
Most of population increase in noise-impacted areas would be due to the '
expansion of 3 and 40 NEF areas over existing neighborhoods when new
runways (E-W and NE-SW) are put into use between 1965 and 1975 In-
creases in commercial and industrial uses in the noise-impacted areas are
expected to more than double between 1965 and 1975, due both to the ex-
pansion of the NEF areas, and to substantial new development in areas
A substantial reduction in the area within the 30 and 40 NEF zones
could be expected if any one of the three alternatives for reducing air-
craft noise were implemented. In contrast to the 518,600 persons fore-
i llTt t0 ?. e UVing ln the 107 SqUare miles of noise-impacted areas under
1975 Baseline conditions, the following percentage reductions in land and
deduction is measured from 1975 Baseline NEF conditions
population afflicted by aircraft noise would be expected if the changes
could be made by 1975:
Reduction in Nols^InvBact Under Alternative Aircraft Noise Abatement Procedures
II. If aircraft flight operations were
changed to require steeper take-off
and landing profiles
III. If aircraft flight operations were
changed, and if engine nacelles
were accoustically lined**
IV . If aircraft flight operations were
changed, and if "quiet" engines
Within the study area, approximately 60 percent of the residential
struc ures are of masonry construction, and 40 percent are wood frame
construction Standard masonry construction reduces interior noise
""han standard wood frame construction Most new d we ling
units expected to be built in the 40 NEF area under 1975 Basehn .con
ditions will be multi-family units, by a ratio over W 1 *'*™ 1 *™^
* i Q.i ThP ratio in the 30 NEF area will be more than 3. i. mis
tZ w?U 5 ™: TZZLons of people exposed »■*£*«££
but it also offers more opportunity for soundproohng requirements m local
building codes .
The mean value of residences in the noise impacted areas, and in the
entire sTudy area was found to decrease slightly as noise exposure
Mmti Value of Residences*
UO NEF areas |$ 25 ' 200
b0 NEF areas $27,400
( entire study area 1 $29,000
The total value °f residential property within the ^Baseline^
S^tween Pr ^l a I ^o^ an^come or minority group
t^„i Rations to Aircraft Noise
Records of complaints about aircraft noise were tabulated and cor-
related with flight operations to help define the problem around O Hare
**four-engine turbo-fan aircraft only
* 1965 dollars
Airport. Only complaints to the Federal Aviation Administration could
be used, since municipal governments do not keep records of every
aircraft noise complaint they receive.
The rate of complaints from any location shows clear correlations
to the following factors:
*centerline of major flight paths
*altitude of normal aircraft operations at that location
*time of day or night
*season of the year
*density of residential development
The ratio of complaints to population shows especially clear cor-
relations to the Noise Exposure Forecast areas mapped for 1965.
Ratio of Complaints to 1965 Population
within 40 NEF areas
within 3 NEF areas
outside 30 and 40 NEF areas, but
within the 240 so. mi. study area
1 for each 35 7 residents
1 for each 1550 residents
1 for each 6700 residents
During the 1960's, only two lawsuits were filed involving the air-
craft noise problem around O'Hare Airport. Both suits were by the same
complainant, and both suits were dismissed. In 1970, two suits were
filed against construction of the new NE-SW runway. One of these was
withdrawn; the other is still in litigation. Local governments did not
seek formal administrative relief from noise problems until 1970, when
a complaint against the new runway was filed with the Illinois Depart-
ment of Aeronautics by three suburbs.
Congressional hearings on the noise around O'Hare Airport took local
testimony in July and December, 1962, and in December, 1967. An Illinois
legislative committee began hearings on the O'Hare noise problem in
September, 1970. Several additional hearings are scheduled for the im-
The City of Park Ridge tried to regulate aircraft noise by local or-
dinance, until federal courts held invalid a similar ordinance of the Town
of Hempstead, New York. The O'Hare Noise Abatement Council was formed
in 1969 and participated in the formation of a national anti-noise group.
Nine suburbs have adopted formal resolutions calling for investigations of
aircraft noise problems around O'Hare. The most recent resolutions call
for the development of a third jetport for the metropolitan area, and oppose
any future expansion of O'Hare.
These actions by local officials and citizens demonstrate an
increasing concern over the growing aircraft noise problem and the
prospect of major expansion of O'Hare Airport facilities.
Federal Aviation Administration operating procedures designed to
reduce the noise exposure through flight controls have been in effect
for more than a decade. Amendments to noise abatement procedures
were adopted in April, 1970.
Turnover rates , vacancy rates , and market price of residential
units were surveyed to help define the impact of aircraft noise upon
the desirability of a neighborhood. All three housing indices correlate
with 1967 30 and 40 NEF zones for the O'Hare area. Although no
cause-effect relationship could be verified, the available data clearly
indicates higher turnover, higher vacancy rates, and lower selling
prices for homes in noise-impacted areas.
DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM
Studies of the aircraft noise problem associated with major
commercial aviation facilities in metropolitan areas, and in this case,
O'Hare Airport in particular have resulted in findings, conclusions
and recommendations in three broad categories:
*Efforts to deal with the problem at its source and
reduce the amount of noise being generated;
*Strategies to deal with the land and with land de-
velopment standards, and lessen the conflict between
people and noise;
^Practices to make dealing with noise problems simpler.
Control of Aircraft Noise at Its Source
It is not within the scope of this study to develop specific
recommendations related to the flight operations of aircraft, or the
engineering of modifications to their engines. However, the infor-
mation supplied by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on possible
changes in aircraft operations and engines, lead to the conclusion that
the greatest hope for relief from aircraft noise around metropolitan air-
ports lies in the reduction of noise at its source. Findings related to
the source controls identified by the FAA and incorporated in its noise
exposure forecast maps has been summarized previously.
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Control of Aircraft Noise at its Source
1. The FAA should adopt noise reduction standards which aircraft
operators may elect to meet by modifying the existing aircraft,
or be retiring existing aircraft and replacing these with new,
quieter airplanes. If these requirements are stringent enough, they
will do more than any land-use strategies to reduce the noise ex-
posure of the population around O'Hare Airport.
2 . Efforts to implement aircraft operational changes and engine
modifications should precede programs to abate noise through
land-use strategies . This will reduce the likelihood that un-
necessary costs are incurred on the ground as a result of
changes in the size and location of NEF areas.
3. Costs of aircraft operation and engine modifications should be
weighed against the cost of land-use strategies that might be
undetaken to lessen noise conflicts in the vicinity of airports
nationally and internationally if controlling the noise at its
source is contended to be economically infeasible.
4. The Illinois Pollution Control Board should set noise emission
standards for aircraft utilizing O'Hare and other airports in the
state. These noise emission standards should be tested in the
courts as soon as possible. Aircraft which do not meet noise
standards may be denied the use of the airport by the City of
Chicago as airport operator.
Land Use Strategies to Lessen Aircraft Noise Conflicts
A variety of on-the -ground activities were identified that have
potential for reducing the conflict between aircraft noise and land uses.
* Development of long range plans for O'Hare Airport within
a plan for a system of airports in the metropolitan area,
* Local planning and zoning, including the exclusion of
land uses incompatible with aircraft noise, and the
encouragement of compatible uses.
'Adoption of soundproofing standards for buildings that must
be located in noise-impacted areas.
'Purchase of noise easements and avigation rights, or the
condemnation and redevelopment to noise-tolerant land
uses of properties where other solutions would be unsuc-
cessful in reducing noise conflicts.
O'Hare Airport Planning and Zoning
Regional Airport Systems Planning
Periodic modifications to the master plan for O'Hare Airport have
hampered the efforts of adjacent local communities to plan and zone
land development in a manner consistent with the reality of a major
airport neighbor. Changes in aircraft technology, over which the
airport operator has had no control, are primarily responsible for
four major changes in the O'Hare Master Plan in 20 years.
In the future, the expenses associated with aircraft noise abate-
ment, including the cost of undertaking land use strategies as well as
aircraft equipment modifications , may limit the funds available for
contemplated airport improvements and expansions. Depending upon
the extent of financial involvement by the airport operator and the
airlines in noise abatement, some airport improvement plans may need
to be shelved or postponed.
The Airport Zoning Act, under which the state may enforce limitations on
land use around O'Hare' Airport, is based entirely on hazards to aircraft -
such as height limits on buildings and glare from ground lights. No
legislative authority exists for Airport Zoning Act standards based on noise.
A significant barrier to land use control in. the vicinity of O'Hare
Airport is the lack of a coordinated airport systems plan for the
eight -county, bi-state metropolitan area. Such a plan is needed to
establish the framework for future planning for O'Hare, and to clearly
define noise exposure forecasts for O'Hare and other airports in the
region. An airport systems plan would include information on which
to base the decision to build a third jetport or not, selection of a
third jetport site, and allocation of anticipated air traffic among the
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: O'Hare Airport Planning and Zoning
Regional Airport System Planning
1 . A Metropolitan Airport Systems Plan should be developed for the
bi-state metropolitan area. This systems plan should clearly
establish O'Hare's future role, thus setting limits within which
other land use strategies can operate.
2. The O'Hare Airport Master Plan should be updated, based upon
a Metropolitan Airport Systems Plan, and copies should be
widely distributed for public review before adoption.
3 . Plans for improvement or expansion of O'Hare Airport should be
based upon careful analysis of airport and airline economics, which,
in turn, should take into consideration the possible future cost of
4. The Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Housing and
Urban Development, and the State of Illinois should give high
priority to funding a Metropolitan Airport Systems Plan, a revised
O'Hare Airport Master Plan, and local planning in the vicinity of
O'Hare that takes noise exposure specifically into account.
5. Affected local governments should participate in the updating of
the O'Hare Airport Master Plan, and they should seek federal and
state assistance in updating their own plans to recognize noise
exposure from O'Hare.
6. Changes in aircraft operations, the development of new runways, and
any other major airport modifications should take into consideration
the impact on areas around O'Hare Airport, including the impact on
local land use strategies designed to lessen noise conflicts.
7. The Federal Aviation Administration should provide up-to-date
Noise Exposure Forecasts for O'Hare Airport, and for other air-
ports included in the Metropolitan Airport Systems Plan. These
forecasts should be given widespread distribution, along with
information on their use in guiding local planning decisions.
8. Airport noise should be recognized specifically in Illinois zoning
and airport zoning statutes as a factor to be considered in land
use control around airports.
9. The O'Hare Airport Zoning regulations and map should be updated
and widely distributed to communities around the airport, along
with information on the use and implications of this zoning in
local land use planning.
Local Planning and Zoning
Development Limitation in NEF Areas
Illinois municipalities have the authority to alleviate the impact
of aircraft noise through their general zoning power. Recent court
rulings have held zoning to be especially valid if evidence is shown
of careful local planning for orderly development. Planning and zoning
have lessened the impact of aircraft noise in some parts of the study
area by providing for industrial and commercial development in areas
exposed to noise. However, much of the eastern portion of the study
area was developed for residential use prior to the introduction of jet
aircraft and the attendant increase in aircraft noise.
The use of local planning and zoning to reduce the conflict between
aircraft noise and land uses is an important tool that is not being uni-
formly or comprehensively used in the area around O'Hare. Vacant land
in 30 and 40 NEF areas is still being held in residential zoning categories.
In defining the meaning of Noise Exposure Forecasts and translating them
into recommendations for local action, the Federal Aviation Administration 1 ;
aircraft noise engineering consultants advise:
Within the 40 NEF areas, new construction should not be under-
taken for single-family, two to four-family, and mobile homes;
or for multi-family apartments , dormitories , group quarters , or-
phanages or retirement homes.
Local planning and zoning that specifically recognizes aircraft
noise, as a problem to be dealt with on the land as well as in the
aircraft itself, could mean the difference between obtaining some
relief from the problem, and a progressive worsening of the problem.
Three land uses that are, in general, compatible with aircraft
noise were investigated for their potential as land-use strategies
for local planning and zoning consideration. They are: industrial
uses, commercial uses, and open space uses.
Commercial Development: Nearly five square miles of land within
the 1965 NEF boundaries were developed for commercial purpose from
1960 through 1965. Much of this activity, especially the office and
hotel-motel development, can be correlated closely to the growth of
the airport. Between 1965 and 1975, within 1975 Baseline NEF areas,
commercial development is forecasted to consume slightly more than
one additional square mile. The apparent decline in the rate of
development is the result of expanding commercial activities on sites
which already were occupied by commercial uses in 1965. Although a
large amount of commercially-zoned vacant land will remain in noise
areas in 1975, much of this land is in small scattered parcels or
in areas unlikely to be marketed for commercial use due to the abund-
ance of commercially-zoned land.
Most of the new commercial development within noise areas,
especially within the 40 NEF contour, will consist of office centers
and hotel-motel-convention complexes . Development of both these
uses has grown in recent years and shows signs of continuing. Suf-
ficient land is available to meet forecasted commercial needs through
1975, although in some areas where demand is high, commercially-
zoned land is unavailable or is in limited supply at very high prices.
Some opportunities exist throughout the noise areas for intensifying
commercial development, rezoning industrial or residential land for
commerce, and redeveloping existing residential areas for commerce.
Industrial Development: From 1960 through 1965, industrial development
consumed 4-1/2 square miles of the land within 1975 Baseline contours.
New industrial development between 1965 and 1975 is expected to use
nearly six square miles within Baseline contours. The 40 NEF area is
expected to get a larger share than the 30 NEF area. Most of the land
which is forecasted to be used for industry is zoned industrial already
but some areas west of O'Hare, now zoned residential, probably will be
Even more industrial development than is forecasted may result
from shifts between NEF areas , from parts of the study area outside
of NEF contours, and possibly, but not likely, from outside of the study area.
More industrial development than is forecasted can hardly occur in the
Baseline 40 NEF area, since available land is slated for transportation
and open space uses. The 30 NEF area has land available in parcels
large enough, at prices the market seems willing to pay; but much of
this industrial potential is now zoned residential. Counties and mu-
nicipalities should take steps to rezone.
Open Space Development: There are no legal constraints to the
acquisition of open space in high noise areas around O'Hare. In-
stitutional barriers to the acquisition of open space by an appropriate
agency do exist, and include:
♦reluctance of the agency to acquire high-value land;
♦conflicts between potential users of such sites;
♦pressure against removal of land from tax rolls;
♦conflicts with local comprehensive plans;
♦relocation of some existing users;
♦pressure from conservation groups and recreational users
against the purchase of open space in high noise areas.
Several sites were identified in which open space preservation would
be appropriate both in terms of aircraft noise compatibility, and open
space need. The sites would serve multiple purposes, including open
space recreation (which is in short supply in the area around O'Hare
Airport) , and flood control (which is a problem in some areas around
the airport) .
Open space preservation preempts the possibility of development
for uses less compatible with aircraft noise. Adequate funding resources
are available to allow the acquisition of desirable open space in the
vicinity of O'Hare.
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Local Planning and Zoning
Development Limitations in NEF Areas
1. Cities and villages in the noise-impacted areas around O'Hare
Airport should scrutinize closely every local development project
that would increase the number of people in areas already noise-
impacted, or in areas where Noise Exposure Forecasts indicate
future problems .
2. Local land-use policies should be adjusted to reduce the likelihood
of additional residential construction in high noise impact areas
until such time as modifications in aircraft operations and engines
can be implemented and the resulting noise reductions evaluated. This is
particularly important in areas shown to be in the 40 NEF zone under
1975 Baseline conditions .
3. Counties and communities in the vicinity of O'Hare Airport should
modify their zoning ordinances and maps to better reflect aircraft
noise impacts, giving special consideration to non-residential
land uses .
4. Cook and DuPage Counties should rezone vacant land in unincorporated
areas subject to high levels of aircraft noise to permit noise-compatible
land uses. This is especially important where present residential zoning
by the county is inconsistent with commercial and industrial planning
for these areas by adjacent municipalities.
5. There should be recognition by appropriate state legislation, of the
power of a municipality near an airport to consider aircraft noise as
a factor in developing zoning regulation for the municipality. The
Airport Zoning Act should be amended to authorize each political
subdivision to adopt zoning regulations that establish land uses
compatible with aircraft noise.
6. The Department of Housing and Urban Development should actively
support local planning efforts in the vicinity of airports , and give
priority in funding those projects which are designed to give con-
sideration to the impact of aircraft noise.
7 Local officials should try to encourage industrial development
of land in the 40 NEF before land in the 30 NEF area or outside
of the 1975 Baseline NEF boundaries. Industrial or commercial development
should be seriously considered in any noise-impacted area subject
to iminent residential development.
8 Because more land is now zoned for industrial use in the study area
than will be required to meet industrial land needs forecasted
through 1975, special efforts should be made to attract industry
into those highly noise-impacted areas that will otherwise be
developed with less noise-compatible uses.
9 Approximately 2 ,800 acres of predominantly vacant land in the
vicinity of O'Hare Airport have both open space and noise conflict
potential, and should be preserved for open space uses. The
Cook and DuPage County Forest Preserve Districts should acquire
approximately 2,000 acres of open space at an estimated cost of
$31 million. The City of Chicago and the Metropolitan Sanitary
District should consider the acquisition of approximately 450
acres for flood reservoirs , at a cost of slightly over $7 million.
Soundproofing, no matter how complete, is at best a half-way measure.
The owner demands full use of his property, outside as well as inside.
To relegate people to life within a soundproofed, closed-window structure
is not a solution, but rather, an admission that the problem exists It
would likely be viewed in the same light as "solving" the air pollution
problem by requiring gas masks .
Nevertheless, soundproofing must be considered as one of the means
of dealing with the aircraft noise problem because noise incompatible
land uses already exist, new development cannot be prevented or com-
pletely controlled with respect to noise compatibility, and some noise-
incompatible land uses will have to be permitted in high noise areas
because they are required by the existing population.
Ten hospitals are located within areas exposed to aircraft noise.
Six have been built since 1959. Apparently no steps were taken by
hospital officials or government agencies to dissuade hospital ad- 1
ministrators from such site selections. Other hospitals within the
noise area have been added to during this time. Some efforts haye
been made to use noise insulation, but noise problems still exist in
One hundred and eighty-one schools are situated in aircraft
noise-impacted areas. Thirty-three public schools were built since
I960, four of them in the 40 NEF area. Few of these buildings could
have been located outside of the noise area, since the schools were
built to serve existing residential development. Although some steps
have been taken by school officials to reduce the noise impact, limited
results have been obtained from the limited funds available.
Seventeen mobile home parks are located in the noise exposure
area. Many of these seem to have gravitated there for lack of land
zoned for mobile homes in more desirable locations.
The cost of a soundproofing program depends on the extent of
the program and the degree of protection provided. In the O'Hare
area a program which would result in the reduction of interior noise
levels bears consideration. Assuming that all residential structures
in the 1975 Baseline 40 NEF area were soundproofed (to 70 EPNdB) ,
costs would slightly exceed $50 million. Even under optimum aircraft
engine noise reduction conditions, costs would still exceed $10 million.
Soundproofing programs in the O'Hare area would meet with many
institutional barriers. Any large scale program would be opposed by
the airport operator and airline industry if the financial and administrative
burden rests on them. Local opposition to a soundproofing program
of existing structures, especially if voluntary, would be minimal. A
preventive soundproofing program could reduce some of the institutional
barriers if it is handled under a uniform state building code which incor-
porates sound transmission loss standards. At the local level, barriers
to sound transmission loss standards could be reduced through the devel-
opment of building code noise attenuation districts which could be designed
to protect against all types of noise sources.
Legislative sanction for soundproofing of structures in high aircraft
noise areas has not been tested in the courts. There are serious con-
stitutional limitations to compelling soundproofing of existing single-
family structures. Requirements for soundproofing hospitals, schools,
and multi-family residential structures have greater promise of being
sustained. Soundproofing requirements in building codes for new single-
family structures might be sustained if it is determined that the noise
problem is tied to public welfare. Meaningful and consistent soundproofing
measures should flow from new, clearly-drawn state enabling legislation.
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Soundproofing
1. Plans for new hospital or school construction in the vicinity of
O'Hare Airport should require soundproofing based on a detailed
study of the noise reduction required at the proposed site. If
possible, new schools and hospitals should not be built in 40
NEF areas and their construction in 30 NEF areas should be
2. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare should increase
the funds available for soundproofing existing hospitals in NEF
areas . Funding to as much as 90 percent of the cost should be
provided to cover the cost of soundproofing both new and exist-
ing hospitals .
3 . State standards should be established for interior noise levels
in schools. Funding should be made available for noise insulation
in new and existing schools. State and county school officials
should increase their efforts to help local school districts cope
with aircraft noise problems.
4. Soundproofing is not recommended as a solution to the conflict
between aircraft noise and mobile home developments. Because
mobile homes fill an important need in supplying part of the
region's housing supply, steps should be taken to provide loca-
tions for mobile homes where environmental problems are not as
serious as in the vicinity of O'Hare Airport.
5. If locations outside of noise impacted areas are not possible for
nursing homes, libraries, churches, and auditoriums, soundproofing
techniques should be considered for both existing structures and new
6. The Illinois Municipal Code should be amended to enable munici-
palities to consider aircraft noise as a factor in enacting sound-
proofing requirements as a part of their local building codes.
Noise Easements and Avigation Rights
Land Acquisition and Redevelopment
Illinois legislation does not now permit the airport operator to
purchase easements to repay airport neighbors for the adverse impact
of aircraft noise. Bills to rectify this situation have been defeated.
Given the absence of any statutory basis, judicial intervention would
appear to offer the only alternative. The Illinois Constitution requires
just compensation for either the taking or damaging of property by a
public agency for public use. However, Illinois courts have never
ruled that high levels of aircraft noise constitute a taking or damaging
of property by a public agency for public use without just compensation
to the owner ("direct inverse condemnation"). Actions in other states,
where aircraft noise was at issue, have resulted in compensation for
Any legislation requiring the airport operator to secure noise based
avigation easements would meet with opposition. Problems of defining
the acquisition areas and the amount of compensation might be simplified
if easements are leased rather than purchased. The aviation industry might
oppose the idea of noise based easements if financing is based on increased
fees to airport users.
Problems in determining the areas in which to acquire easements would
be lessened if a method could be agreed upon for describing the extent
of the noise problem. In the O'Hare area costs for acquiring noise based
easements within the 40 NEF area could range from $14 to $66 million
depending on the extent of the easement program. A smaller program ap-
pears to be warranted, especially in conjunction with outright purchase
of noise-impact land and soundproofing strategies. The most logical
means of funding an easement program would be through revenue bonds
backed by the airlines using O'Hare, or through the sale of tax allocation
bonds, under which increases in the value of taxable land within the
noise impact area would be used to pay off the bonds.
Existing law does not specifically authorize an airport operator or
any local municipality to acquire severely noise-impacted properties for that
reason alone. Cities and counties do have the authority to acquire property
for public use, with the requirement that just compensation be given to the
owner. Condemnation is authorized, if necessary. Public use has been
interpreted by the courts to include the fulfillment of public purposes as
well as direct use by the public. Because the acquisition of land by a
public agency for noise conflict reduction purposes has not been court-
tested in Illinois, it is not possible to state that this land-use strategy
is legally feasible.
Legal opposition can be expected to any program of acquiring property
for noise abatement purposes, depending upon whether vacant lots or
residential structures are being acquired. Acquisition of vacant property
would remove land from the tax rolls, but resale for noise-compatible
uses could eliminate this objection. Acquisition of developed property
raises much more formidable barriers, as most of the residential property
in the airport vicinity is structurally sound. Any redevelopment strategy,
especially on a large scale, might meet with widespread opposition from
citizens and local governments . More localized acquisition and re-
development proposals may be feasible. The O'Hare Noise Abatement
Council of local governments has specifically urged congressmen to
support legislation that would require airport operators to purchase
severely noise-impacted property from owners.
No large scale acquisition program in the O'Hare area would be
financially feasible. Costs for acquiring residential properties in the 40
NEF area would approach $400 million assuming that no other hurdles
exist. Given these costs, only a limited acquisition program appears to
In order to determine if a smaller scale program of acquisition is
economically feasible in the vicinity of O'Hare Airport, a sample analysis
was made of the potential for acquiring and developing vacant land, and
acquiring and redeveloping residential land in noise-impacted areas. Four
sites were selected which were located within the 40 NEF zone in 1965 and in
1975 under any of the alternative Noise Exposure Forecasts involving reduced
levels of aircraft noise. Commercial development was considered on one of
each of the vacant and the residential sites. Industrial development was
considered on the other vacant site and other residential site.
The industrial and commercial development potential of the predominantly
vacant examples proved to be quite favorable in light of forecasted demand.
Problems under these assumptions are minimal. Costs are realistic in terms
of existing experience. Tax benefits to local government are significant,
especially in the commercial example. In addition to precluding development
of uses incompatible with aircraft noise, the examples offer direct increases
in tax revenue to local jurisdictions .
In the sample studies of the redevelopment potential in the two
residential areas , it was found that, under current market conditions ,
and assuming that the land could be marketed for industrial or commercial
purposes, the homes could be purchased with just compensation to the
owners, the structures could be razed, and the land could be redeveloped --
all without financial loss to the agency or unit of government involved in
the redevelopment project.
It was concluded that, although redevelopment would be economically
feasible, very substantial political and social, as well as legal obstacles
exist. While the benefits are considerable (reduction of noise-sensitive
uses, increases in tax revenues to local government) these benefits may
not be enough to overcome the obstacles.
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Noise Easements and Avigation Rights
Land Acquisition and Redevelopment
1. A State Legislative Committee or Commission should develop a
program for coordinated purchase or leasing of aircraft noise
easements, and land acquisition and development or redevelopment,
for the noise-impacted areas around O'Hare Airport. This program
should result in legislative recommendations relating to:
a. the extent of the program for acquiring easement or land,
b. identification or creation of an appropriate agency to
undertake the program,
c. a method of compensating property owners, including
relocation costs ,
d. interrelationships with other land use strategies,
e. a method of financing the coordinated program, and
f . timing of the coordinated steps of the program.
2. State legislation should be enacted to authorize the acquisition or
leasing of property easements based on aircraft noise. The Airport
Authority Act should be amended to authorize this action.
3. If authorized under new enabling legislation, the securing of noise
easements should be concentrated in 40 NEF areas.
4. State legislation should be enacted to authorize limited programs of
land acquisition and redevelopment in areas of high aircraft noise.
The Airport Authority Act and the Illinois Municipal Code should be
amended to authorize this action.
5. If authorized under new enabling legislation, the acquisition and
redevelopment of land should be concentrated in 40 NEF areas.
J-An "Airport Authority, " under Illinois Law, is a public agency which
operates an airport. In the cases of O'Hare, Midway, and Miegs Field,
the City of Chicago is Airport Authority. Other airports in the region
are operated by other Airport Authorities. 21
6. Renewal statutes should be expanded to permit consideration of
aircraft noise as a blighting influence.
7. The Federal Airport and Airways Development Act of 1970 should
be amended to permit the acquisition of aircraft noise-impacted
properties (where locally authorized) and to make expenditures
for this purpose eligible for federal financial assistance.
Administrative Practices for Dealing with Aircr aft Noise
In the course of the study of ways to abate aircraft noise, particularly
in the area around O'Hare Airport, a number of administrative problems were
found which complicate efforts to deal with noise. Just the communication of
ideas and proposals among the 31 municipalities and two county governments
constitute a significant obstacle to the coordination of noise abatement efforts.
The absence of regional plans for airports, and the lack of any regional
framework for coordination land-use controls around airports make local
planning and zoning difficult and uncertain. It is even difficult for most
citizens to locate someone in an official capacity with whom he can file
a noise complaint. It is clear from this study, that some changes in
administrative practices are needed in order to achieve the optimum
results from noise abatement efforts, at least in the area around O'Hare
SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS: Administrative Practices for Dealing
with Aircraft Noise
The Illinois Legislature should consider ways to establish state
or regional land use controls around airports. The regional
authority created by the Minnesota legislature to control land use
around the Twin Cities airport should be studied as one way of
accomplishing this control.
2. Information on plans to expand airports or change operating
procedures of airports and aircraft, should be published and
widely distributed. A regional or state agency should be
authorized to conduct public hearings on airport expansion
plans and improvement projects.
3. The Department of Housing and Urban Development should
actively support efforts to develop or stimulate coordination
among agencies and units of government in the vicinity of
4. The Illinois Department of Local Government Affairs should
help to coordinate noise abatement efforts through its Technical
Assistance Planning Service and through the direct coordination
of state and local programs .
5. The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission should try to im-
prove communication channels among communities around O'Hare
Airport, and between the airport operator (Chicago) and these
6. Local communities in the O'Hare area should coordinate the
collection of noise complaints with the City of Chicago and the
Federal Aviation Administration in order that the effectiveness
of noise abatement programs can be better evaluated.
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Cover Photo by New York Times