Rybak again threatens airport lawsuit

The ink wasn't dry on a reduced noise-mitigation program for people living near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport when Mayor R.T. Rybak again threatened to sue the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).

At a Nov. 15 news conference, Rybak said the city of Minneapolis will sue the MAC and/or the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) for what he said were broken promises made to Southwest residents and others living near the airport.

The mayor renewed his threat to pursue litigation after the MAC voted 10-4 for what Commission Chair Vicki Tigwell called "final approval" to a noise-mitigation program that will go to the FAA for implementation authorization. If the FAA approves it, homeowners living in the 64 DNL (day-night level of sound) to 60 DNL sound contours will be offered central air-conditioning to help reduce airport noise. Residents will have to make co-payments to receive the air-conditioning.

Rybak said the city has retained the Denver-based law firm of Kaplan, Kirsch and Rockwell to work with the City Attorney's Office on a lawsuit. The mayor said he doesn't know if citizens or other municipalities will join the suit, which the City Council approved Nov. 9. The law firm will be paid out of annual budget monies for legal expenses.

"We will be taking every action we can," Rybak said outside the MAC offices. "They need to know how serious we are about making sure they make good on their promises."

Earlier he had delivered a passionate address to MAC Commissioners, warning them that Minneapolis would hold them to promises he said they've made. He pledged to fight them as long as he's mayor and said that even if he leaves office, he'll continue to carry the battle to them.

As he spoke, Commissioners quietly watched him before casting their votes to overwhelmingly approve the noise-mitigation plan pushed by Tigwell.