Apple Valley will soon have a more prominent voice on airplane noise, after the cities that sit on the airport's Noise Oversight Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to let the southern suburb join.
The city will sign on with five others that share one "at-large" seat on the committee, which reviews noise problems and complaints at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The MAC owns and operates the airport.
Apple Valley and three other suburbs had lobbied for a seat on the committee after the airport's new north-south runway shifted jet traffic above their communities last fall. Rosemount, Lakeville and Farmington will not get representation.
The five cities on the noise committee voted unanimously against giving Apple Valley the permanent seat it had asked for, but did agree to let it join as a rotating member.
"This is a good day for Apple Valley," Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland said. "We've got a great group of cities to work with and we're excited to start."
The MAC established the 12-member noise oversight committee in 2002 to bring airline industry representatives and community leaders together to discuss noise issues and make policy recommendations to the MAC.
Six airport users have a seat, as do the cities of Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington, Eagan and Mendota Heights. The cities of Burnsville, Inver Grove Heights, St. Paul and St. Louis Park rotate an annual "at-large" seat.
Each representative serves a two-year term, while the at-large members rotate annually.
The full NOC committee will vote in March to let Apple Valley join, and chairman and Bloomington City Council Member Vern Wilcox expects the change will be approved.
Noise complaints in the southern suburbs have surged since the $800 million Runway 17/35 opened in October.
In November and December, for instance, Apple Valley residents logged 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, of the airport's total noise complaints. And to date, the runway's traffic has been at less than half of what was predicted before it opened.
"Clearly, the city is experiencing new noise. This is now an issue and they deserve representation on the committee," Wilcox said.
The cities also recommended Wednesday that the at-large cities end the annual rotation and instead appoint one person to represent them all for a two-year term.
Hamann-Roland backed that plan.
"It's effective and it's efficient," she said. "Then we will all know who to go to when there are issues. It makes the at-large position an equal representative."
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