The Dania Beach homeowners who live close to a runway being built at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have been given a choice by Broward County:
Take our offer to soundproof your home now or give up your right to have us pay for it.
“To me, there’s really no choice,” said Christine Campbell, who grew up in the home at 529 NW 10th St. in Melaleuca Gardens where her mother, Sophia Prossic, still lives.
The now-or-never choice came about after the Federal Aviation Administration said in May that it would not fund a critical portion of an agreement the county had made to pay cash to about 857 eligible homeowners if they waived their right to sue. The Dania Beach Commission then unanimously voted to rescind that 2011 agreement with Broward County.
That deal included financial sales assistance for the approximate 857 homeowners most affected by noise, and free sound-proofing for 1,700 homes. Homeowners would have been given a second chance to decide on the soundproofing after the south runway project was complete.
With the 2011 agreement tossed out, Broward Aviation Director Kent George said, the homeowners lost their second chance.
Now, those homeowners are being approached and asked to make a decision on the matter within a few weeks.
Of the 120 Melaleuca Gardens homeowners who have received the offer so far, 80 have said yes, George said.
The county is retaliating against Dania Beach for voting to rescind the 2011 agreement, Dania Beach Commissioner Anne Castro said.
“I think that they are trying to play hardball with the wrong people,” she said.
But George said that’s not the case.
“This was a choice by Dania Beach, this was not a choice by Broward County,” he said.
Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday with Dania Beach officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After voiding the agreement, Dania Beach reopened a lawsuit against the county, as well.
But George has said the city’s actions will not affect construction of the $790 million runway, which is set to open to commercial jetliners in 2014.
“The county intends to move forward with the work that we have been doing and plans to continue to build the runway,” he said.
The runway, which will rise 65 feet over U.S. 1 and run parallel to Griffin Road, is expected to reduce delays for passengers by allowing more planes to travel to and from the airport.
But with those additional flights comes more noise, vibrations, fuel particles and other negative effects on the nearby homes.
“It’s going to be hard to sell the house because of what’s happening here, and if you don’t soundproof the house, it is going to be even harder to sell it,’’ said Campbell, whose family has owned the Melaleuca Gardens home since the mid-1950s. “If you can sell it at all after that project goes through. Who knows?”
In the meantime, the county is preparing to offer its soundproofing deal to the next group of homeowners.