Bensenville residents sue over noise, damage from new O'Hare runway

CHICAGO (STMW) - Dozens of northwest suburban residents, angered by a new O’Hare Airport runway that has sent a stream of jets over their homes, are suing the city, saying their homes have been damaged and rendered unlivable by the change in flight patterns, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The plaintiffs’ Bensenville homes “are extremely close the runway, and airplanes using the runway fly at very low altitudes directly over their homes and/or their immediate neighborhood day after day in an unrelenting fashion given the new runway’s flight path,” the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court, claims.

Besides the excessive noise from planes landing and taking off almost around the clock—and as close as 100 feet above the ground—the air traffic has: “caused shingles to come loose; left an oily residue on their homes and property; caused cracking of walls, ceilings, windows, and foundations; caused leaking roofs; caused ceiling fans to come loose; resulted in soaring electric bills (due to the Residents’ inability to open windows because of the excessive and constant noise); caused intermittent loss of cell phone and internet connectivity; and caused intermittent loss of electricity,” the suit claims.

In all, 74 residents, many of them couples, are named as plaintiffs in the suit, which asserts that city officials “publicly assured the residents that this new runway would not have a material impact upon their lives, property, or neighborhoods.” The city, according to the suit, also repeatedly assured residents the volume of air traffic would not be significant or disruptive, but the suit concludes those assurances “remain untrue.”

The excessive noise has essentially rendered yards and other outdoor spaces unusable, “has dramatically and negatively forever altered the lives of the residents, and has caused their homes to plummet in value and to be undesirable, unusable, and unsafe.”

The lawsuit alleges the city’s actions add up to “unjust enrichment”—that is, the city is benefiting from the runway at the expense of residents without compensating them fairly for the lost value of their property, according to the suit.

Though the suit seeks compensation, it does not specify or even estimate what a fair amount of compensation would be. It does, however, note that residents should be paid more than the fair market value of their homes that value, the suit notes, to be based on what the homes were worth before the runway opened.

Hundreds of nearby homes and other properties, the suit notes, were purchased and demolished to make way for the runway.

A spokesman for the city’s legal department said it was aware of the lawsuit but could not yet comment.

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