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a digest of 

Metropolitan Aircraft 

Noise Abatement Policy Study 

O'Hare International Airport 

Chicago, Illinois 



Northeastern Illinois 
Planning Commission 



400 West Madison Street, 

Chicago, Illinois 60606 

(312) 263-1266 

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 

of Commissioners 


C. LeRoy James 

President, DuPage County Forest 

Preserve District 








Downers Grove 1973 


Waldemar Rakow Elgin 

Member, Kane County Board 
of Supervisors 


Earle Harrison Libertyville 

Member, Lake County Board 
of Supervisors 


Robert F. Olson Woodstock 

Member, McHenry County Board 

of Supervisors 


Herman L. Olivo Joliet 

Member, Will County Board 

of Supervisors 


Commissioner Floyd T. Fulle, Chairman 
Cook County Board of Commissioners 
Jack D. Pahl, Vice-Chairman 
President, Village of Elk Grove 

Herbert Behrel 

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 

Marshall Suloway 

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 
— Representative) 

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 





September, 1971 


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 

Soundproofing 18 

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. 



4m, ,res, mariison street . Chicago. Illinois uoaao ■ (312) anclmrr H-l2(Hi 


October 21, 1971 


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 ^ 



LMBrnt LeeM.Burkey 


■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 
Chicago . 

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 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. 


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 
percent. * 

Land Area 

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 
already noise-impacted.* 

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 
were installed** 

Land Area 





-3 0% 



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 
populations . 
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- 
mediate future. 

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. 


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. 
These include: 

* 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 
region's airports. 

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 
noise abatement. 

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 
every case. 



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. 




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 
seriously questioned. 

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 
aviation easements. 

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 
warrant consideration. 

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 
Airport . 

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 
airports . 

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 
communities . 

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