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F-35 opponents protest at Sen. Leahy's office - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

F-35 opponents protest at Sen. Leahy's office

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Just the thought of F-35 planes landing near her neighborhood gets Juliet Buck upset.

"The F-35 program is just sick on every level," Buck said.

Her neighborhood abuts the Burlington International Airport, right near where the city plans to acquire 200 homes that are above what's considered a livable noise level.

"People didn't realize they were living in a noise zone that precluded them from selling their homes without disclosure, that precluded them from getting insurance or get low-income housing," Buck said.

Nearly 100 opponents like Buck gathered outside Sen. Patrick Leahy's office in Burlington Wednesday, asking for a sit down with the senator.

"Leahy's a very powerful man. He sits on very powerful committees. I think it's disingenuous for him to say he has no power in this," Buck said.

Still, his office maintains it's out of Leahy's hands. They say the decision lies with the U.S. Air Force, though the senator does support the planes.

"We've made attempts over the last several years to meet with Senator Leahy and he's refused," said James Leas, a protester.

"We don't want to talk to you again; we want to talk to Senator Leahy," one frustrated protester yelled at John Tracy, Leahy's Vermont director.

"What I'm telling you is there's no commitment at this point in time to a public hearing. The senator feels again that this is the Air Force's decision," Tracy told the protesters.

Buck says it isn't just Leahy; it's all local leaders.

"I think that Governor Shumlin should be embarrassed to be standing there," Buck said.

She says the trip the governor took with the two mayors who support the F-35's shows a lack of compromise.

"It's a complete violation of the public trust to be going on a trip financed by a private group that is obviously in favor of this basing," Buck said.

Sen. Leahy issued this statement: "Any objective review of the public record clearly shows that these issues have received extensive public discussion and review over the last year. Now the Air Force is weighing the evidence and Vermonters' views and suggestions. They will reach a decision in the months ahead."

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