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That won't fly, MAC.

Star Tribune, MINNEAPOLIS - Hennepin County District Judge Stephen Aldrich ruled on Thursday that the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) broke their promise to soundproof air traffic noise for the thousands of houses near the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport. [full story here]

According to a related article in the Pioneer Press, in 1996 the MAC had agreed to spend $150 million to soundproof the houses effected by the airport expansion.

In order to qualify for full soundproofing, a citizen would need to be inconvenienced by 65 decibels of noise. The current dispute rests with homeowners who experience 60-64 decibels of pollution, who claim the original agreement extended full soundproofing to them as well.

How exactly does one fully soundproof a home from noise pollution? You can't exactly build a sound-barrier wall to block jet noise descending from on high. No, in order to protect from aerial noise, you must insulate your walls, get special doors and windows, install roof baffles, a furnace, duct work, and a central air-conditioner. Soundproofing a home can cost up to $45,000.

What, then, is partial sound-proofing?

In November 2004, commission board members had voted to scale back from the full treatment for homes in the 60-to-64-decibel range. Under a revised policy, it offered air-conditioning to 3,594 homes if their owners agreed to help pay for it.

Well, according to the quote above... it's the package deal, minus the central air-conditioner.

Almost 8,000 (7,800+ houses according to the main article linked above, PiPress reports 7,690) homes have already been fully soundproofed. [Note of Interest: By that math, about $360 million has already been spent.] The 5,628 homes with 60-64 decibels of pollution have been told by the MAC that they need to help buy their air-conditioners and they are most emphatically not pleased.

A trial to decide what remedy to give the homeowners will begin on Feb. 12.

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