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City keeps ‘right turn’ fight alive

Just like the roar of jets over the northwest Las Vegas Valley, the city’s legal fight against the Federal Aviation Administration’s “right turn” will continue for the near future.

The Las Vegas City Council unanimously decided to continue the battle to stop, or at least modify, the new flight pattern for departures out of McCarran International Airport.

The council approved spending up to another $300,000 on the legal fight. The city has already spent about $100,000 on right-turn legal fees.

Two weeks ago, the council appeared to be on the verge of abandoning the fight.

Council members were worried about tight budgets, and most of the complaints were coming from Ward 2, the Summerlin area.

But Ward 2 Councilman Steve Wolfson and Mayor Oscar Goodman asked that the decision be delayed two weeks so the public could weigh in.

On Wednesday, close to 200 people showed up at the council meeting. When asked by Goodman to raise their hands if they supported continuing the legal fight, arms shot up in a wave.

When Goodman asked for those who wanted the legal fight to stop, four lonely arms braved the partisan crowd.

“I never could have dreamed we would have had unanimous support,” said Greg Toussaint a resident of The Lakes who has become the most vocal opponent of the right turn.

Before the City Council meeting two weeks ago, the attorney the city hired, Barbara Lichman, had told the city that its chance of winning the legal fight was 20 percent. In the interim, though, she revised that estimate to between 45 percent and 60 percent.

While residents have complained about noise and the impact on their quality of life, Goodman has worried about safety because of the proximity of Nellis Air Force Base and North Las Vegas Airport flight paths.

The city’s lawyer has said the best legal angle is air pollution caused by idling planes.

The case is in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Goodman and Wolfson again expressed frustration with the Clark County Commission and Nevada’s congressional delegation, who have been silent on the matter.

Councilman Larry Brown suggested Goodman lobby federal officials “as only you can” to demand answers about where the right turn came from.

Goodman responded, “You’ve got my juices flowing.”

Wolfson said the unanimous vote “sends a clear message to the FAA: We are just beginning to fight.”

Since the plan was started on March 20, about 200 planes per day have headed West, then turned north — the right turn — before heading east.

Residents under the new flight path have complained they can’t sleep and that their outdoor patios are unusable.

They also predict home prices will drop.

One of those complaining was Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Nancy Oesterle, who said she and her family can’t sleep when the planes are flying, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 1:30 a.m.

FAA officials have contended that the right turn is necessary to improve efficiency because the airport can accommodate more departures.

One of those who spoke out against continuing the fight was downtown resident Karen Veljkovic.

“We have a lot of other issues,” she said. “I feel like this is a waste.”

She said her neighborhood, near Oakey and Eighth Street, has long fought the FAA over helicopters buzzing their neighborhood but to no avail.

“Good luck to them, I guess,” she said after the council vote.

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