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Compromise on Expansion Plan at John Wayne Airport Reached

August 28, 1985|JOHN NEEDHAM and ROBERT HANLEY | Times Staff Writers

Newport Beach, Orange County and two homeowners groups agreed Tuesday to a compromise blueprint for the limited expansion of John Wayne Airport over the next 20 years.

Under the proposal, there will be more expansion of the airport than Newport Beach or neighborhood organizations wanted but less than was originally demanded by county officials and business interests.

For at least the next five years, the airport will serve a maximum of 4.75 million passengers annually. After that, the maximum will be 8.4 million a year, until 2005.

Last year, the airport handled 2.8 million passengers. The county originally proposed expanding the facility so that it could handle 10.24 million passengers annually.

The agreement specifies that a new terminal will be smaller than the county first proposed, have less space for passenger waiting lounges and fewer loading bridges for large aircraft.

Barbara Lichman, executive director of the Airport Working Group, one of the neighborhood organizations that fought the expansion, called a portion of the plan that continues an existing curfew on air traffic between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. "critical."

For years, residents near the airport have complained of excessive noise, despite increasingly strict restrictions on noise levels of aircraft imposed by the county. Earlier court suits resulted in a limit on daily commercial flights at the airport to 41, although the number was raised to 55 earlier this year.

While approved by all the major contending parties, the settlement was strongly opposed by the McDonnell Douglas Corp., which has said it will continue litigation challenging the expansion plan. The aerospace firm contends that noise restrictions discriminate against one type of aircraft it manufactures.

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