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updated: 10/2/2015 10:23 AM

Bensenville residents sue Chicago over disruptive jet noise

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  • A plane flies above a neighborhood along Hillside Drive in Bensenville after takeoff from O'Hare airport. Homeowners are suing Chicago over jet noise.

    A plane flies above a neighborhood along Hillside Drive in Bensenville after takeoff from O'Hare airport. Homeowners are suing Chicago over jet noise.
    Joe Lewnard/Daily Herald July 2015

 
 

Bensenville residents fed up with jets that vibrate houses and force outside conversations to be conducted in shouts sued the city of Chicago Thursday claiming the noise is harmful and has destroyed their quality of life.

Attorney Michael Leonard said he was skeptical about how bad the situation was until he visited the neighborhood on Hillside Drive near O'Hare International Airport.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Leonard, who represents about 55 homes. "Planes are coming over the treetops, descending down the middle of the street."

The Chicago Department of Aviation referred questions about the case filed in Cook County court to the city's legal department.

"We are sympathetic to the noise complaints raised by the plaintiffs and a comprehensive plan to address airport noise -- particularly night-time noise and those most impacted by it -- is currently being implemented," legal department spokesman John Holden said.

"However, we do not believe those complaints are properly addressed through litigation. In particular, we do not believe the plaintiff's complaint has merit and we intend to vigorously oppose it."

Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has said when a plan to build six parallel runways at O'Hare is complete by 2021, aircraft noise will be more evenly distributed around the region.

The city is also working on a plan to rotate landings and arrivals at night.

The lawsuit argues the situation of the Hillside neighborhood is unique. The problems started when a new runway on the north airfield opened in October 2013.

"The residents suffer from a constant uneasy feeling ... family and home life is in constant stress and distress because of sleep interruption ... children cannot enjoy normal childhoods," are among the claims.

The residents also referred to an occurrence where part of an airplane fell into a nearby swimming pool some time ago.

The lawsuit seeks at a minimum that residents be compensated for the fair value of their homes before the runway opened.

Among the plaintiffs are Chester and Jolanta Gorniak.

"We've been here 26 years and put so much into our home and garden. It would break my heart to leave ... but last night a plane woke me at 1:30 a.m. The whole house shook," Jolanta Gorniak told the Daily Herald in July.

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