Neighboring City Hires Lawyer to Fight Noise from Boston's Logan Airport

DECEMBER 17, 2008

Somerville has hired Boston firm Robinson and Cole LLP to represent the city against the Federal Aviation Administration and Massport over increased airport traffic since the building of runway 14/32.

At the Board of Aldermen's meeting on Dec. 11 Mayor Joe Curtatone pointed out the new runway at Logan affects thousands of Somerville residents' quality of life with the constant air traffic it generates over the city accompanied by additional noise and pollution. Somerville joined a class-action suit against the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) years ago, and the time has come to find the best counsel to represent the interests of the city, he said.

A team of lawyers from Robinson and Cole LLP was present at the meeting. One of them introduced the firm, and said they are a national practice in environmental law and have represented cities and towns in similar cases for many years. They assured the board they have the expertise and experience to handle the case.

Aldermen discussed the issue, deemed it urgent, and went into Executive Session to further deliberate the eligibility of the firm and litigation strategy. Forty-five minutes later, they reconvened in public session and approved the mayor's request to hire the firm immediately. The mayor said that the city was trying to partner with neighboring communities to help offset the cost of litigation and build a stronger case. "We're hopeful we'll have a few more with us," he said.

In 2001, after the project plans were revealed, Somerville reportedly joined 27 surrounding communities to try and stop the construction of the new runway at Logan Airport. The coalition against Massport's efforts, called the Community Advisory Committee, was made up of communities from Swampscott to Weymouth and Braintree to Melrose, according to Journal archives.

About 10 years ago Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay and Alderman at-Large Bill White headed Somerville's political contingent against proposed runway 14/32, which was going to triple the amount of air traffic over Somerville. Despite testimony from hundreds of residents during the public process, Massport went ahead and built it anyway.

"We had a meeting with citizens and the FAA. After three hours of public testimony against it, they went ahead and built it. They listened to us, but they didn't do anything else," White said. "Now we are seeing the effects of it on our residents."

In its environmental impact report Massport reportedly stated that noise levels in Somerville are negligible. This was called ludicrous by residents and elected officials, according to Journal archives. Since the runway opened aldermen have been fielding complaints from constituents regarding increased traffic, noise, pollution, and quality-of-life issues.

Source: Wicked Local - Somerville