Residents in Chicago, fed up with O’Hare airport jet noise, take to the streets to fight it

O’Hare airport in Chicago has been upsetting residents to the northwest of the city, by changing flight paths, so some people are being over flown a great deal than before. This is the result of the O’Hare Modernization Project that took effect in October 2013. The changes mean that 85% of O’Hare arrivals and departures between 11 pm and 6am will fly over homes in certain suburbs. Those living under these flight paths face not only the noise, the annoyance, the potential impacts on their health and the loss of sleep, but also a decrease in their property prices.  The local community campaign, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been touring affected neighbourhoods giving out door hanger signs encouraging people to get active and fight the flight paths, or else “kiss your property values goodbye.”  They plan to hand out door hangers to 50,000 homes. They also have “yard signs” (placards to stick in the front garden) for the campaign, selling these to raise campaign funds. Just as in London and near other UK airports, people are devastated by the new noise pollution. One commented that even with noise insulation, it was impossible to avoid the noise in the neighbourhood, even by going shopping, going swimming, going to the park. It cannot be avoided.



Residents Fed Up with O’Hare Jet Noise Take to the Streets

By Mina Bloom (DNAinfo.chicago)

 July 13, 2014

EDGEBROOK — Susan Schneider moved to Edgebrook 12 years ago in search of a peaceful alternative to the ruckus of Lakeview.

Little did she know that her new neighborhood would turn out to be just as noisy, if not worse. This time, rather than late-night revelers, her everyday life is being disrupted by planes flying overhead every few minutes at almost all hours of the day, a result of the O’Hare Modernization Project that took effect in October of last year.

The project increased air traffic on the Northwest Side and northwestern suburbs. Specificallyit means 85 percent of O’Hare arrivals and departures between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. will fly over homes in Sauganash, Forest Glen, Edgebrook and North Park.

Now, Schneider is looking to sell her Edgebrook home at the end of the year, and she’s worried about her property value.

“I’m greatly concerned that if anybody comes during this onslaught, I’m going to have some issues selling my home,” she said.

Schneider was one of more than 100 community members who voiced concerns about the noisy planes Saturday as an advocacy group moved through the neighborhood to distribute thousands of door hangers urging people to appeal their property taxes.

A door hanger (cut out holes for door knob)

The self-funded community organization, Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition, has been fighting to keep the volume down since the project took effect. The group began with seven members about 15 months ago, and now has around 200, organizers said.

Jac Charlier, a member of FAiR’s leadership team, came ready to pass out 30,000 door-hangers, but has 20,000 on top of that to distribute the rest of the summer. This amount, he said, is three times as many as the coalition printed last summer.

In addition to door-hangers, coalition member Susie D’Alessandro came to the event with yard signs and asked for $5 donations for each sign. All of the yard signs had sold by the time the meeting ended.


Not unlike Schneider, former English teacher Colleen Mulcrone, 40, moved to the neighborhood with her husband and two small children because it had a lot to offer.

 FAiR organizer Jac Charlier speaks to Northwest Side residents about their options regarding the jet noise from O'Hare during an event at the Edgebrook library Saturday.

FAiR organizer Jac Charlier speaks to Northwest Side residents about their options regarding the jet noise from O’Hare during an event at the Edgebrook library Saturday.

The most appealing part of living in Jefferson Park, Mulcrone said, is being within walking distance to neighborhood parks like Wilson Park and Portage Park as well as their childrens’ school, the grocery store and the public library, among other places.

When the planes began flying overhead with greater frequency beginning last October, Mulcrone said her family was “devastated;” she felt “robbed” and cried every night for two weeks.

“Now there’s no place we can go where I can escape the planes,” Mulcrone said. “If I go shopping at Target, there are planes there. If I take my kids to swimming, there are planes there. On the Northwest Side of Chicago, there is no escaping them.”

Mulcrone said she’s grateful that her major home renovations fell through due to permit delays because she was able to use a “big chunk of that money” towards sound-proofing her daughter’s room and installing new dry-wall.

While sound-proofing helps reduce noise, it does not eliminate it.

“You still have ambient noise all of the time in the background,” Mulcrone said.

At this point she said there are a few options for her and her family: she can either “choose to be a prisoner” in her own home, fight for change or move.

She said her husband is already ready to “walk away” from their home, but she is continuing to fight.

“The mayor and (U.S. Transportation Secretary) Ray Lahood and anyone else who is saying this is a great project for Chicago say it’s going to create all of these jobs and all of this revenue,” she said. “At what cost?”

The coalition has requested to meet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel seven times to discuss this issue, and Charlier said all of their requests have been ignored.Recently, Emanuel made his first comment on the issue when he wrote a letter to aviation officals asking them to expedite a study to allow the sound-proofing of more homes, among other things.

Other officials, including Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th), Ald. Mary O’Connor(41st) and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), have called for renewed hearings about the jet noise. Last month, O’Connor said the expansion project should be put on hold until more hearings can be held.

Federal aviation officials said the flight patterns at O’Hare are designed to ensure the airport operates as efficiently and as safely as possible.

FAA spokesman Anthony Molinaro said that federal and local officials held several meetings on the Far Northwest Side last year before the new runway opened.

Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride said her agency “supports holding a public hearing and has been working with the aldermen and congressmen to schedule a date for the hearing that works for all parties involved.”

Kate McClure, who has lived in Sauganash for 52 years, says moving is not an option. She loves the neighborhood, she said, and is optimistic that the group will force change.

But the planes, she said, fly so low that “you can see people eating their meals in the little windows.”

Patrick Loftus, 58, of Sauganash, and John Ceisel, 54, of North Park, agreed that the constant noise is “completely unacceptable.” They both have been living in these neighborhoods since the late 1980s.

Ceisel said not only do the planes disrupt his sleeping patterns, but he it also affects “whether this is a neighborhood people want to live in.”

“The city is struggling from an education perspective,” said Ceisel, who is a retired corporate educator. “This is one more reason for me to the move to the suburbs.”


Fair Allocation in Runways in Chicago



See also a short 2 minute 30 seconds video on YouTube  of a song (great lyrics) called “Highway over our heads” made by some Chicago residents disturbed by the aircraft noise.  This is what FAiR call their new anthem.




FAiR on Facebook

Facebook entry   12.7.2014

Coverage of our meeting yesterday. 113 citizens jammed into the FAiR Summer 2014 Door Hanger Campagn Kick-Off Event in Edgebrook on Saturday, July 12. This is the start of our 50,000 door hanger distribution to areas impacted by more planes, more noise and more pollution from O’Hare all without any real community input.



FAiR on Twitter


FAiR’s website says:

What is FAiR about?

FAiR seeks a real voice at O’Hare to secure an equitable distribution of takeoffs and landings, day and night, east and west, and using all existing runways including the diagonals. FAiR is the leading voice for residents on this issue.

What does FAiR believe?

It is our Coalition’s experience that citizens and civic organizations concerned about the severe impact on our communities from increased noise and air pollution occurring as a result of the new October 2013 runway configurations have not had a real seat at the table in the development and implementation of how O’Hare takeoff and landing patterns were designed. FAiR supports the economic engine that is O’Hare, but we believe that as our neighbor, the airport must work with the community to determine when and where those engines fly over our homes, yards, schools, parks and businesses. FAiR’s desire is to obtain acceptable solutions to community concerns as well as future plans so they do not become an issue. To date, that conversation with communities has been non-existent, with the unfortunate viewpoint given that the communities will simply have to live with the consequences resulting from October 2013 and O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP) changes yet to come. The FAiR Coalition seeks to replace that antiquated institutional practice so common in Chicago and Cook County with a democratic approach involving a modern assessment of the risks and rewards for both O’Hare AND our communities. FAiR’s goal is a better future founded upon a real voice for communities and solutions arising out of collaboration between the citizenry and our government. Solutions to these types of challenges are not solely technical in nature but are more importantly democratic in substance.

What can you do?

As a neighbor, resident and fellow citizen, We ask you to Join FAiR. Then…

  • Sign our online petition
  • Report noise complaints
  • Contact your elected officials
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Put up a FAiR yard sign
  • Tell your neighbors about how our democracy has been imperiled
  • Become active with FAiR in your community


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    . Earlier:

  • Chicago O’Hare airport new runway & flightpaths creating huge opposition by those now over-flown

    26.5.2014Chicago O’Hare airport currently has many runways but not all can be used simultaneously. The airport has been building more, reducing the lengths of others, to get three parallel runways that can be used together. There has been a lot of controversy about the plans over many years, with compulsory purchase of land, from residents who did not want to move.  There is now huge protest against the noise. A group representing city and suburban home-owners, the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition (FAiR),  is asking the Chicago Aviation Commissioner to resign or for the Mayor to fire her.  FAiR say there is  “mounting frustration over the lack of response from the Mayor on possible remedies concerning “the ceaseless airplane noise” since air-traffic patterns were changed last autumn.  The Aviation Commissioner has refused to consider altering the use of runways at night to spread out jet noise instead of concentrating it over one or two air corridors. FAiR says she has made up her mind that there will be no change at O’Hare no matter how many citizens demand change, no matter what solutions are proposed and no matter how devastating the impact of her decisions on families, children and seniors, and even entire neighbourhoods. 

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