Saturday, July 1, 2017
Noise relief arriving near Fort Lauderdale airport, but complaints are rising
By Larry Barszewski
Many Dania Beach homeowners under the new approach path of Fort Lauderdale airport are still waiting for noise mitigation from the incoming flights.
For almost three years, the deafening noise from incoming flights has thundered down on hundreds of Dania Beach homeowners.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
An expanded runway at Fort Lauderdale airport led to the roar of jets over their homes, and many are still waiting on relief they were promised.
People in Fort Lauderdale and Plantation were surprised when altered flight patterns also brought the ear-splitting noise to their neighborhoods immediately north of Interstate 595, west of the airport.
The complaints pouring in to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this year have surged, going from monthly totals normally in the hundreds to topping 13,000 in both January and February.
More than 6,400 complaints were reported in May.
While the complaints have been in the thousands, officials said they have come from fewer than 200 households each month.
Airport officials blame the increase in complaints on:
“We can’t sleep at night,” said Angelina Pluzhnyk, a resident of the Lauderdale Isles in Fort Lauderdale, north of I-595 and east of State Road 7, which has had the largest share of complaints.
Just one Lauderdale Isles household filed about 9,000 complaints in a three-month period earlier this year, officials said.
Pluzhnyk is a member of an airport committee that will make recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration after studying the new noise patterns, including possible changes to flight patterns and if any additional noise-mitigation projects are warranted.
She and her neighbors would like to see the procedures changed so that flights taking off to the west of the airport travel farther out to the west before turning north.
The $791 million expansion was designed to virtually eliminate flight delays, to allow for continued airport growth and to accommodate South Florida’s growing tourism industry. The expansion, which includes an incline as the 8,000-foot runway rises above Federal Highway, had been planned for more than 30 years.
There are two main fixes underway for the homes in the affected Dania Beach neighborhoods, generally on the north side of Griffin Road to the west of the airport:
In the past year, Broward County has stepped up its program of installing insulated doors and windows — and central air-conditioning for some — at eligible homes. Attorney Lawrence Caplan said a 2015 lawsuit claiming the county was dragging its feet on doing the work prompted officials to move faster.
“We motivated them to get moving and to actually install the doors and windows,” Caplan said about the suit, which has been voluntarily dismissed.
Construction has been completed on 637 of 1,190 homes participating in the sound-insulation program, with another 63 currently approved for construction, officials said. The average cost per home is $56,000, with 80 percent paid for by the federal government and the remainder by the county.
Brenda Palmeri sees the work being done on other homes in Avon Isles on Southwest 34th Drive north of Griffin Road. She said she hopes hers — with its jalousie doors and single-pane windows — will receive the same treatment.
She moved into the 60-year-old home, originally built for her grandparents, after her 98-year-old mother died in October.
Palmeri is not certain yet that she will qualify for the program.
“The noise is bad. It rattles the windows,” Palmeri said of the planes.
Donna Peplin is waiting for a county payout for the “air rights” over her Avon Isles home, where she has lived for 40 years. As part of the agreement, the county acknowledges property is being affected by noise, lights and emissions from the overhead flights. In exchange for the payments, property owners give the county unrestricted use of the air space over their homes.
The airport is paying either 21.9 percent of appraised value to homeowners who aren’t part of the mitigation program, or 14.4 percent to those who get the windows and doors.
There are 848 eligible properties that can receive payments. So far, 63 have been paid, with the average offer $57,200, airport officials said.
For Peplin, who should get about $80,000 based on the value of her home listed by the Property Appraiser’s Office, it has been a long time coming.
“I fought the airport expansion along with others since the late 1980s,” Peplin said. “It is what it is. The main concern that I always had is that the people should be compensated that were suffering.”