Lawsuit Between Chicago Suburb and City Over
Soundproofing Against Airport Noise is Settled

JULY 4, 1997

The Chicago Tribune (Metro Du Page, page 2; Zone: D) reports that a lawsuit brought in May by the village of Bensenville (Illinois) against the city of Chicago, alleging that the city had ignored Bensenville and other member towns in the Suburban O'Hare Commission in picking homes for soundproofing this year, has been settled. Under the terms of the settlement, an additional $11.4 million will be spent this year on soundproofing near the O'Hare International Airport for 344 more homes in Bensenville, Des Plaines, and unincorporated parts of DuPage and Cook Counties.

Meanwhile, the chair of the recently formed O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission hoped the settlement would be the beginning of a more cooperative effort to solve airport noise problems, but members of the Suburban O'Hare Commission continued to insist that the Noise Compatibility Commission, formed by Chicago's mayor, was simply a mouthpiece for the city.

According to the article, U.S. District Court Judge James Holderman urged lawyers for Chicago and Bensenville to settle the suit last week, and the parties reached a tentative agreement. The Bensenville Village Board approved the settlement Tuesday. Both sides characterized the proposed settlement as a victory, the article reports. Bensenville officials said the deal is a victory for the soundproofing program, and Chicago officials portrayed it as a way to keep the soundproofing program underway and on track.

Dennis Culloton, a spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's Aviation Department, said the lawsuit could have halted the city's soundproofing program for the year because there might have been injunctions or temporary restraining orders against the city. In that case, Culloton said, no one would have gotten soundproofing that year. Culloton added that the proposed settlement simply moves up the timetable for soundproofing homes in Bensenville and the other communities.

However, Joseph Karaganis, attorney for Bensenville and the Suburban O'Hare Commission, said the proposed settlement will "prevent the city and its allies from playing political games with opponents of O'Hare expansion." Karaganis said member towns of the Suburban O'Hare Commission believed that they would not have receiving soundproofing at all if it weren't for the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, a group of suburban mayors formed by the mayor, stood behind the proposed settlement Thursday. The commission's chair and mayor of Arlington Heights, Arlene Mulder, urged the SOC to begin to work with the Commission and the city to move toward solutions to airport noise. Mulder said the settlement is beneficial for everyone involved, and that it "demonstrates that discussion is more productive than confrontation in the courtroom."

However, SOC members continued to portray the Noise Compatibility Commission as a mouthpiece for the city. John Geils, Bensenville Mayor and president of the Suburban O'Hare Commission, said, "We've unmasked the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission as the voice of the City of Chicago." Geils went on to say that the group, formed by Daley, is "not a representative tool for deciding how to (address) the problem" of O'Hare noise.