O’hare flight path noise irks NW Side residents


Quality of life in Jefferson Park has suffered since a new runway opened at O’Hare Airport in October, according to several residents at the April 30 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.

One resident said that she has been suffering from sleep deprivation because of the increase in nighttime flights over her home. "It’s a health issue," she said. "I get waken up at 3 a.m., and they come every 10 minutes."

Northwest Side residents formed a group called the Fair Allocation In Runways Coalition to lobby the city and the Federal Aviation Administration alter O’Hare flight paths to spread jet noise over a wider area. Coalition member Colleen Mulcrone said that she and her husband love living in Jefferson Park but that they delayed a renovation project for their house because of their concerns about jet noise. "We don’t know if we want to live here anymore," she said.

Nearly all of the 20 people at the meeting raised their hands when asked if they have noticed an increase planes flying over Jefferson Park. The newest runway at O’Hare has planes flying over Wilson Avenue on their approach to the airport.

Residents of the Indian Woods, Sauganash and North Park neighborhoods recently received reductions in the assessed value of their properties after they claimed that their property values had declined due to the change in flight patterns at O’Hare, FAIR coalition member Judie Simpson said. A groundswell of property assessment appeals based on jet noise could play a factor in getting city officials to address the coalition’s concerns, she said.

The coalition claims that the modernization project shifts 85 percent of all nighttime landings to routes over the Northwest Side, as more planes are taking an east-west approach instead of using the old diagonal runways at the airport. The coalition opposes plans to remove the diagonal runways.

Simpson said that residents file jet noise complaints with the city by calling 311 and their local alderman’s office. She said that eight elected officials have "signed on" with the coalition but that Alderman John Arena (45th), who represents Jefferson Park, is not one of them.

Meanwhile, the association has sent Arena a letter objecting to a plan to build a five-story, 48-unit apartment complex at the northeast corner of Argyle and Long avenues. The developer for the project, American Colony Homes, originally planned to build single-family homes on the site, which until 10 years ago served as a storage facility for a concrete company.

The association urged Arena to support construction of single-family homes under the existing RS-3 zoning of the site. The letter states that the association "did not find a single person" in the block of the proposed development and adjacent to the site in the 5300 block of West Winnemac Avenue who support the apartment proposal.

"The developer originally purchased this property to build single-family homes," the letter states. "We remember this, and so do the neighbors, due to the advertisement on the property for over 2 years, showing pictures of these single-family homes. The Jefferson Park Neighborhood association has long been against up-zoning."

Arena has said that higher residential density is needed near the ward’s commercial areas to make them more attractive to prospective retailers and to help sustain existing businesses. The apartment complex would be built across the Kennedy Expressway from the Jefferson Park Metra station and the Jefferson Park CTA terminal.

It also announced that voting on the 45th Ward participatory budget will be held between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, May 7 to 9, at the 45th Ward office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave., and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Wilson Park fieldhouse, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Voters must be ward residents at least 14 years old and can must a utility bill as proof of residency, Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said.

Arena is one of several aldermen who hold a community vote to determine how most of the ward’s $1.32 million in discretionary capital funds should be spent. The proposals on the ballot include suggestions to plant parkway trees, resurface the tennis courts at Wilson Park, build a new playground at Independence Park, install wider bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue and create on-street bike parking in the Six Corners commercial district.

The ward’s recycling and shredding fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wilson Park and in a parking lot at 4750 N. Milwaukee Ave. on the same day of the participatory budget vote, Brugh said. The event will include document shredding, electronics recycling, displays on ecologically friendly practices and the collection of shoes, clothes and books which will be donated to the needy.

The association will co-sponsor farmers’ markets which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from June to October at Lawrence and Long avenues, near the tennis courts at Jefferson Park. The "Jefferson Park Sunday Market" on June 22 will be held at Higgins and Linder avenues because of another event in the park that day.

The next association meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St. The meeting will feature a speaker who will discuss flooding concerns.