Search Site
Our litigation regarding noise and air pollution

August 19, 2004

Airport Noise Complaints Getting Louder

by Stuart Lieberman
Realty Times

Scottsdale Airport in Arizona has angry neighbors who feel the planes using the facility are simply too loud. Right now a federally funded study is under way to figure out how to address this problem. But, after all is said and done, the problem will likely never completely go away.

Maybe it will get better for some neighborhoods, only to become worse for others. Or maybe it will be better for three years, and gradually get worse thereafter.

Face it, we are flying more now than before. And more planes require expanded airports, which equals more noise. With increasing frequency, neighbors are vehemently protesting loud airports everywhere.

People who live in the vicinity of airports have been complaining for decades that their lifestyles are unbearable. Often, they are unable to watch a television show without being interrupted. Frequently, they report that regular conversations with family members are all but impossible.

Many individuals who live near large airports moved there years ago when the airports were much smaller in size and handled smaller planes. Teterboro Airport in New Jersey is one example of an airport which for years only serviced small propeller-driven planes and jets. Now, it is becoming a large scale private jet center affecting the lives of thousands of South Bergen County, New Jersey residents.

There is also increased pressure on government officials to provide added airport capacity. Often, it seems that government officials are willing to sacrifice the sanity and well-being of those who reside in the vicinity of our nation’s airports so that the system as a whole can become bigger and stronger. If you do not live near one of these airports, this might at first seem to be reasonable to you. But how about those poor individuals who bought homes near airports believing that the government would protect them from undue noise and pollution? It is not fair that they should suffer so that the rest of us can prosper. Obviously, it is not fair and as a society we cannot turn a deaf ear on these people.

Increasingly, neighborhood groups representing individuals who reside close to these airports are forming. They are petitioning not only the FAA, but our courts and the local agencies that control and regulate these airports for much needed relief.

The FAA regulates all aircrafts in the air, and no state or federal laws are allowed to impede upon this regulation. This is called federal preemption, and this preemption, while clearly necessary in order to protect airline passengers, also makes it very difficult to regulate noise. Even when local officials want to take some kind of affirmative action, their hands are tied by this preemption.

The FAA has approved certain aircraft noise models which can determine the amount of buffer area which is required around an airport in order to provide neighbors with some level of noise protection. This model requires that certain data be placed into it and then determines areas which might be affected by noise levels deemed by the federal government to be excessive.

Modeling is an effective tool for guarding against future airport noise complaints. However, modeling has limits in instances where airports are already fully developed or, where neighborhoods have already been developed within close proximity to existing airports.

In addition to creating buffer areas, there are also physical controls such as the installation of insulation and other sound reducing devices that can be employed at facilities that are near airports. But there are consequences associated with these kinds of fixes as well. For example, a fix which requires sealing all windows in a public school might reduce the level of noise from airplanes that fly above. But it also might reduce the amount of fresh air introduced into the school and might result in a lower indoor air quality level. In that case, school officials must pick their poison.

As in the case of Scottsdale, the federal government will often enter into agreements with local airport operators to fund studies designed to reduce complaints from neighbors. And these studies are often used to reduce future noise complaints when airport expansions are proposed. Such expansions are being proposed at many airports throughout the country. One of the problems seems to be that there is a disconnect from what the federal government considers to be acceptable noise levels and what people on the ground perceive to be acceptable noise levels. Often, conditions described by the federal government as acceptable are reported by neighbors as simply unacceptable. The most common complaints seem to be that people cannot talk on the phone or watch television or have discussions with their family members inside their homes.

Is it fair that thousands of people who live near an airport should suffer so that a region as a whole can prosper? It is important that airport operations and airport expansions occur in a manner that is compatible with maintaining the sanity of neighboring airport residents.

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • DEP urged to set tough limit on 1,4-dioxane in drinking water.
    1 month ago
  • Beach access issue returns in Cape May County beach community, near the location of a similar issue that was litiga…
    2 months ago
  • Another effort to make the Delaware Water Gap a national park is underway.
    2 months ago
  • New Jersey seeks designation of Lower Hackensack River as a federal Superfund site.
    2 months ago

Recent Blog Posts

Environmental Hearing Requests by Third Parties: An Update

In 2010 this author contributed an article discussing the difficulty that anyone other than an applicant had in administratively contesting a permit. Stuart J. Lieberman and Shari M. Blecher, “It’s
Read More
Environmental Hearing Requests by Third Parties: An Update

Hoboken cannot block residential development with new zoning ordinances, Supreme Court holds

In Shipyard Assocs., LP v. City of Hoboken, 242 N.J. 23 (2020), the Supreme Court held that the City of Hoboken could not block a waterfront residential development by enacting
Read More
Hoboken cannot block residential development with new zoning ordinances, Supreme Court holds

Long standing land use attorney Michele Donato joins Princeton’s Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich as “of counsel”

The law firm of Lieberman, Blecher & Sinkevich is  proud to announce that Michele R. Donato, Esq. has become Of Counsel with their firm. Ms. Donato has specialized in land use,
Read More
Long standing land use attorney Michele Donato joins Princeton’s Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich as “of counsel”

RLUIPA case in SDNY challenges alleged discrimination against Orthodox Jewish community

In December 2020, the Southern District of New York filed a lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the Village of Airmont. The suit alleges
Read More
RLUIPA case in SDNY challenges alleged discrimination against Orthodox Jewish community

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form