Metropolitan Airports Commission / Cities seek public input on noise settlement

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will host a public forum today to discuss potential settlements in two noise-insulation suits against the Metropolitan Airports Commission. With a settlement deadline approaching, Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan are seeking...


Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will host a public forum today to discuss potential settlements in two noise-insulation suits against the Metropolitan Airports Commission. With a settlement deadline approaching, Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan are seeking input on what to include in an offer.

A class-action suit might net central air conditioning for thousands of residents who live with the daily din of planes departing Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, including at least 261 Eagan homeowners.

Central air is the major noise buffer offered in the $65 million legal settlement, which has yet to be made fully public.

But some officials in the three cities think homeowners should perhaps hold out for better.

Details of the tentative agreement are still being hashed out and are subject to the approval of a Hennepin County judge. But city officials in Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan fear the class-action settlement could shortchange their own noise-insulation suit, filed separately in 2005.

The MAC has offered to help the cities with legal costs - totaling more than $1 million - if they accept the same settlement, MAC spokesman Pat Hogan said.

The two lawsuits are being heard by Judge Stephen Aldrich, who has given the three cities until July 23 to draft their own legal agreement with the airports commission.

"If the class-action suit settles for something, the pressure will be on us to accept the same terms," said Corey Conover, assistant city attorney for Minneapolis.

"We don't know all the details in the proposed settlement of the class-action suit, and they've never given us all the details," Conover said. "Obviously, we've been asking for a lot more than air conditioning."

Details

What: Under a tentative settlement of a class-action suit, homes surrounding the airport would receive central air conditioning and $1,750 for additional sound insulation or, if they already have central air, $9,250.

Minneapolis, Richfield and Eagan are asking for more extensive soundproofing. Officials said many homes received air conditioning after the late 1990s, under a separate program. And central air does little good against noise in winter.

Who: Also in question is how many homeowners would benefit in either settlement, with counts ranging from 4,400 to 8,000 in the three cities. Dianne Miller, assistant city administrator for Eagan, said 492 Eagan homeowners live within the noise contour this year by one common counting method - or 261 by another.

If you go: Minneapolis plans an open house on two noise-insulation lawsuits involving the Metropolitan Airports Commission from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Richfield Lutheran Church, 8 W. 60th St., Minneapolis.

If you don't go: If Judge Aldrich approves the class-action agreement, residents will receive a notice by mail allowing them to accept the proposal or to opt out.



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