The South Metro Airport Action Council, SMAAC, today complained that public comments about the MSP Noise Control Program were systematically side-tracked. They offered the following sequence of events as proof.
May 7: MAC's consultant, HNTB, prepared a "Presentation of Assumptions" in five tasks. The first task, Collect Data, listed their sources. MAC; FAA; airlines.
May 22: MAC held a public meeting on the Part 150 Update. HNTB mentioned three possible passeneger-use in 2007 forecasts after meetings with Northwest and other airlines currently leasing gates at MSP. The airlines forecasted what aircraft would be using MSP in 2007 and how often. [SMAAC attended the meeting and commented that HNTB included no State or local data sources: no demographic or economic projections by Met Council; and no surveys of local travel agents or large Minnesota companies. SMAAC also delivered a letter asking MAC to hold public hearings to consider additional testimony.]
June 9: HNTB presented the recommended Forecast Assumptions to the MAC Planning and Environment (P&E) Committee Meeting. According to HNTB, the airlines' forecast was "inconsistent with" the observed trend, or Terminal Area Forecast, and far lower than the FAA national forecast reflecting trends in passenger demand. But HNTB still recommended a daily flight use forecast for 2007 (and since this is based on trends, for 2004, 2005, and 2006) near the airlines' forecasted use.
[MAC Noise Staff was to have distributed comments received at the May 22 public meeting, but it is unknown if P&E Committee members had this input. In any event, no questions were asked, and HNTB's recommendations were approved. SMAAC was not allowed to address the Committee before this vote. Later, SMAAC asked about consideration of other forecast data in the assumptions. Chair Houle said that opportunities to comment on the Part 150 Update would be provided by the MAC.]
June 10. SMAAC published its a list of questions about the assumptions in a public announcement. June 16. At its regular June meeting, the assumptions had been placed on the consent agenda, to be adopted by the full MAC without discussion. Commissioner Boivin moved to "table the consent item approving Part 150 Update Assumptions until the August meeting of the Commission". He said his reasons included allowing for public comments, and the Noise Oversight Committee was scheduled to meet July 23, the day after the next quarterly public noise meeting. This motion passed and no discussion was then in order.
[Later, at the end of the Agenda, SMAAC was allowed to comment, and its President, Jim Spensley, asked if Commissioners had received the May 22 letter and if they considered the July 22 meeting a "Public hearing"? He distributed the public announcement saying it had 12 questions SMAAC had wanted the Commissioners to ask HNTB. Spensley spoke with Chair Grunseth after the June Commission meeting, and she asked MAC Deputy Director Nigel Finney to see that HNTB was available at the July 22 meeting to answer questions from the public.]
June 26. The Noise Oversight Committee met for the first time. MAC Noise Manager Chad Leqve suggested that NOC meet next on July 23rd in order to benefit from the July 22 public meeting. However, in spite of objections by Minneapolis' representative Scott Benson, NOC set its next meeting for July 17 and included the Part 150 Update assumptions in its agenda. It was left open if NOC would accept public comments at the meeting.