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Airport neighbors get noise-reduction details

Details of QuieterHome, a new program aimed at cutting down on airport noise in nearby neighborhoods, were unveiled during a standing-room-only meeting in Maryvale High School on Wednesday night.

QuieterHome, a $60 million noise-reduction effort targeting 1,700 residences near Buffalo Niagara International Airport, gives homeowners the option of having the government pay for home modifications to reduce noise. Officials from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the airport and C&S Engineers participated in the discussion.

The officials outlined the process for participating homeowners and fielded questions from a sometimes-frustrated crowd.

Homeowners would not be responsible for any expenses but are required to sign an agreement that limits their rights to sue the NFTA for issues stemming from aircraft noise.

Modifications for houses would include noise-reducing windows and doors, air-conditioning units and additional insulation, according to Bill Brod, national manager for C&S. Eric Coomey, a local manager with C&S National, said managers would assess the homes and decide what needs to be done. The managers would then draw up a construction plan and bring in contractors. The construction would be done in a maximum of 10 days.

During a question-and-answer session, some residents complained that the study on eligibility for the program was unfair and incomplete. The study, which started in 2003, assessed the average noise level around the airport. Residents of homes that exceed a decibel threshold can sign up for the improvements.

"The house right next to mine is eligible," said one man, "but my house is not."

Officials said the study and decisions on eligibility were made by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Others eligible for the project said they wanted more specifics about the legal agreement and the quality of the work.

"Nothing was really answered," said resident Nick Minotti. He said he spoke with residents in Chicago who were unhappy with changes made under a similar program.

"I'm concerned about the easement," said resident Aleta Rutledge, a prospective participant in the program. "What if the noise levels change?"

Some homeowners interested in making noise-reduction changes to their homes were told that they would not be reimbursed for work outside the program.

Among the residents impressed by the meeting and the program was Lynette Dick, who said, "I've lived here for 42 years. I feel very happy that this is being done."

e-mail: aerickson@buffnews.com

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