Guard releases ‘roadmap’ to mitigate environmental impacts of F-35

Vermont Air National Guard Col. T.J. Jackman announces the Guard’s environmental impact mitigation plan for the arrival of the F-35 fighter jets at a news conference Friday in Colchester.  Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Vermont Air National Guard Col. T.J. Jackman announces the Guard’s environmental impact mitigation plan for the arrival of the F-35 fighter jets at a news conference Friday in Colchester. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

COLCHESTER — The Vermont Air National Guard on Friday released what they say is a “roadmap” to mitigate the environmental impacts of the F-35 fighter jet when it arrives in Burlington in 2020.

“The plan is an initial roadmap,” said Vermont Air National Guard Col. T.J. Jackman at a news conference Friday. “The plan is a living document and will likely be updated several times before the F-35s arrive here in 2020.”

After a contentious three-year process, the U.S. Air Force last year selected Burlington as the location for a fleet of 18 F-35 fighter jets to replace the Guard’s aging F-16s.

Critics of the basing decision say the new jet will cause adverse health and environmental impacts. Their chief concern is that the new F-35s will be louder than the current F-16s.

According to the Air Force, the jets’ arrival will expand the area around the Burlington International Airport affected by noise to include more than 2,000 homes with a 65 decibel day-night-average sound level.

The Guard’s noise mitigation plan calls for a study after the F-35s arrive, which could take more than a year, Jackman said. However, he said the Guard will adjust flight patterns to reduce noise impacts immediately.

“We’re going to find ways to do the best we can to reduce that impact,” he said. “The noise mitigation will be when the F-35 arrives with regard to how we fly the airplane.”

This includes adjusting take-off procedures, flight altitudes, power settings and flight times, Guard officials said.

But opponents of the F-35 basing in Burlington, who are backed by a vocal and organized coalition, said the plan does not go far enough to ensure noise will be mitigated.

“This seems to be a case of the emperor has no clothes,” said Rosanne Greco, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former South Burlington city councilor. “There’s nothing in this document that says how this is going to relieve or reduce the noise impacts of this plane.”

Greco said there should be more noise planning before the jet arrives.

“When it comes here, well, then it’s too late,” she said. “It’s going to come here, and then they are going to say, ‘we can’t do anything.’”

But Guard and airport officials said they need more data on the F-35 noise levels before they begin noise mitigation strategies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also needs more information before it puts up any money for noise abatements.

“There are no promises because we don’t know,” said Gene Richards, director of aviation for the airport. “As far as the FAA, they will not do anything unless we have facts. That’s what we don’t have today is a lot of facts.”

Pam Mackenzie, chair of the South Burlington City Council, said the city is already working on a plan for the Chamberlin School neighborhood in response to the anticipated arrival of the F-35s.

Days after the airport was selected to host the fighter jet, South Burlington received a $17,000 municipal planning grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development to fund the first phase of the planning process.

Mackenzie said the grant will be used to launch the planning process in June. That process includes building a working relationship between the neighborhood and the airport, planning new infrastructure projects – including parks, airport access and affordable housing – and working on a plan to mitigate airport noise.

The discontinued FAA home buyback program left the residential neighborhood dotted with vacant, boarded-up homes. The demolition of about 62 homes is stalled by a demolition permit appeal.

“Until there is a decision from the Vermont Supreme Court about the lawsuit that stopped the demolition, the airport can’t do anything,” Mackenzie said. “Rather than waiting around twiddling our thumbs, we decided to start the process by listening to residents and collectively seeing what resources are available.”

She is confident that the city will receive a $100,000 grant from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to break ground on new projects in the area.

To accommodate the planes, the Guard will upgrade and renovate existing base infrastructure, including aircraft hangars, maintenance shops, simulator facilities and work areas, according to the plan. When practical, the Guard will incorporate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and sustainable development concepts into the construction.

Upon arrival of the first F-35, the Guard will work with the Air Force to develop emergency fuel dumping procedures and a new crash response plan with the fire department, the plan states.

The Guard will develop, implement and track the progress of the plan. The Air Force will be responsible for ensuring the plans are carried out.

John Herrick

Comments

  1. Mary Provenvencher :

    Pam Mckenzie and the Vt Guard are delusional . F-35’s are not wanted in Vermont .You both have done all you can to ruin Vermont and our way of life.
    Vermont ‘s tourism is 3.7 billion dollars a year and growing 13% a year . You will sacrifice our state’s tourism industry and housing values, for a few hundred part time guard jobs.You will take away affordable homes , ruin the quality of our lives ,harm everyone’s hearing and harm the environment .
    Military jets do not belong on top of residential communities. Pam Mckenzie does not belong in Vermont. Please someone , Take back Pam Mckenzie!

  2. Christopher Irion :

    RE :”But Guard and airport officials said they need more data on the F-35 noise levels before they begin noise mitigation strategies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also needs more information before it puts up any money for noise abatements.”

    According to my understanding the F-35 has been flying since 2006. How is it possible that in that time that NO information has been gathered by anyone about noise levels and noise mitigation based on “adjusting take-off procedures, flight altitudes, power settings and flight times,” as quoted by Guard officials above?

  3. Kim Fried :

    65 decibel, 2000 additional homes, WOW.
    I’m sorry for citizens in South Burlington. I’m surprized they couldn’t figure out a way to locate this additional noise in the Northeast Kingdom, they could justify the location because we are getting used to the ridge line industrial wind turbine noise, but then again it might be hazardous avoiding those 400-500 foot ridge line strutures.

  4. Ray Gonda :

    We have seen what “faux” noise mitigation has consisted of in the past with the F16s.

    The takeoff noise in the Chamberlin neighborhood of South Burlington was “mitigated” by moving the liftoff point farther toward the end of the field – toward Winooski. This did indeed reduce the noise in the S.B. neighborhood but the noise level in Winookski became outrageously louder.

    Worse yet, because of the configuration of the slopes surrounding the Winooski River the noise from the takeoffs in the newer location was amplified by the resonant-
    chamber-like configuration of the terrain.

    Thus, in total, over all neighborhoods collectively overall noise levels became worse that previously.

    The VTANG mitigation=move noise elsewhere; trade one neighborhood off for another.

  5. sandra bettis :

    say goodbye to burlington and chittenden county as we know it – no one will want to live there or visit there either.

  6. Sara leggett :

    Also likelihood of incidents resulting in fire involving the carbon fiber structures of these jets and the toxins that then would permeate the neighborhood. What do we know of this issue?

  7. rosemarie jackowski :

    Another issue is that we are building an economy dependent on weapons of war. This changes the culture.

    When people ask what has happened to the beautiful, peaceful, mythical Vermont we have always known, we can tell them it was destroyed by Lockheed Martin and the politicians who believe that there are people we need to kill.

  8. Elisabeth Hebert :

    …..and there is another thought, I feel is even more valid: why do we need a fighter plane, a bomber, that is made to attack and kill in foreign countries? Is that what America has become, the biggest bully in the world? 
    If the enormous amount of money that those fighter planes cost and the equally enormous amount that has to be spend for maintenance would be spend for education, the folks who join the guard could go to school and choose their own future. My guess, it is not always to be a hero!

  9. Sean Joyce :

    Regardless of what anyone thinks about having this jet in Vermont is aside from the point. The plane does little that it was promised initially and has seen it’s capabilities and stealth drop off. Fly’s hot? Good thing we don’t anticipate fighting any wars in the desert. Replace the F16s and the A10s with this? This will be scrapped before Vermont sees a single plane. Its a complete SNAFU created by defense contractors and politicians alike.

    • Sean Joyce :

      This jet has already and will continue to weaken our arsenal. It is outclassed by Russian and Chinese jets and has missed its mark continually and in no way will it be able to replace the F-16 or the A-10. One trillion dollars for an outdated computer system and a non stealth design that fly’s incredibly hot..Another job well done Washington.

      • Kyle Kubs :

        That’s cause half of the vital parts are defective crap, Made In CHINA.

  10. BUT – our voices will never be heard! If the Air Force wants them there they will have them there. Shouting from the roof tops at politicians who no longer have any ears to hear the people, only hearing what the war machine wants. Vermonters do not want wars, take the war machine to Washington -

  11. Michael Colby :

    What really needs to be “mitigated” is the $163 billion that the F-35 program is over budget. The $400 billion being spent on these planes could go a long way in addressing this nation’s real problems.

    Consider this, for example: The projected General Fund budget for the entire State of Vermont in FY2015 is $1.44 billion. Thus, the money being spent on the F-35 program could fund Vermont at our current level for the next 278 years.

    Thanks Bernie, Pat and Peter.

    • Paul Lorenzini :

      THANKS BERNIE PAT AND PETER FOR MAKING EARNERS PAY 1200% THE USA AVERAGE COST OF WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  12. Jim Barrett :

    My suggestion to the Air Guard is to get off the bandwagon of phony issues raised by activists and get the job done. You will neverr appease anyone as they created this problem not you.

  13. Paul Lorenzini :

    make em solar powered, and put Mr. Gore in the pilot seat against a zero.

    that would be fair.

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