BURBANK : Airport Plans Will Be Discussed at Hearing

The Burbank Airport Authority will hold a public hearing about the effects of proposed expansion plans on surrounding neighborhoods at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Burbank Hilton.

Four years ago, the authority announced plans to expand facilities from 168,000 square feet to approximately 360,000 square feet by 1998.

An Environmental Impact Report was prepared and certified in 1993. But since that time, the expansion plan has proceeded far from smoothly, and its future is in doubt.

After the authority certified the environmental report, Burbank homeowners and the city of Los Angeles filed suit against the authority, claiming the report did not accurately describe the possible traffic and noise problems that could result from expansion.

In the summer of 1993, the court ordered the Airport Authority to prepare a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report, taking into account possible traffic and noise effects of expansion. The new report was released to the public in June, but some homeowners still are unhappy.

"We think the airport is an asset at the size that it is," said Carolyn Berlin, president of the Verdugo-Magnolia Park Homeowners Assn.

Most people protesting the expansion, she said, "feel that at some point, the airport will become a liability."

"We don't want to see quiet residential neighborhoods infested by hordes of people," said Ted McConkey, president of Burbank Rancho Homeowners.

Another problem with the expansion, say homeowners, is increased noise. "The airport has consistently taken the position that they don't have the money to soundproof schools and residences," McConkey said.

The Airport Authority said expansion plans include the soundproofing of four schools. One school already has been soundproofed, said Tom Greer, the authority's executive director.

Greer said the homeowners' concerns about increased noise and traffic will not occur because of airport expansion, but because of increased use of the airport.

The expansion plan anticipates a projected passenger total of 5.5 million by 1998. "Quite frankly," Greer said, "we're probably hitting 5 million passengers this year." In 1993, 4.3 million people used the airport.

After Wednesday's hearing, the Airport Authority must decide whether to study the matter further or to certify both the environmental reports together. A final decision on the expansion plan is expected by mid-August.

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