Judge orders MAC to insulate more homes; The Metropolitan Airports Commission is considering whether to appeal the county judge's decision in the noise dispute.

June 25, 2007

A Hennepin County judge has crafted an interim order in the metropolitan airport noise dispute, requiring the airports commission to begin insulating homes where noise levels are highest.

But numerous issues remain in the long-running fight involving the commission and the cities of Minneapolis, Eagan and Richfield, which filed a noise suit in 2005. Attorneys say they are still trying to figure out how Judge Stephen Aldrich's order will figure into the final outcome.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) issued a statement Wednesday saying it "is reviewing all of its options including the possibility of an appeal in regards to Judge Aldrich's June 14 order." Attorneys in the case began learning about his order this week.

Earlier this month, the commission announced a tentative agreement with homeowners in a separate class-action suit.

Corey Conover, an assistant Minneapolis city attorney, said Wednesday he is pleased that the judge is pressing to begin the insulation process.

"We want to do the insulation, and they [the airports commission] don't want to, and the judge has told them to get started right away," he said.

In his interim order, Aldrich said the commission should reassemble its construction teams and provide a package of insulation improvements for single- and multi-family homes with the highest noise levels: 64 to 65 DNL (an abbreviation for average day-night levels, in decibels). Aldrich said that by Feb. 1, 2008, the commission should begin providing the "5dB package" for those homes, which typically includes new windows and doors, new vents if necessary, and central air conditioning.

Aldrich said the commission "shall proceed to insulate 900 homes a year while this case is pending here or on appeal."

Conover called the order "a bit confusing" because there are only about 200 homes in the 64 to 65 DNL range.

The number of homes to be insulated could range from about 4,00 to 8,000, depending on what method Aldrich decides to use, Conover said.

Randy Furst - 612-673-7382