Back in June the Winooski city council released its position on F-35 fighter jets coming to the Burlington International Airport. They vowed not to make a decision until both sides were fully vetted. After traveling to hear the jets himself last week the mayor offered only anecdotes not opinions. "To my ear it wasn't a huge difference although the F-35 was probably a little bit louder than the F-16," Winooski Mayor, Michael O'Brien said.
Residents worry without higher ups like Governor Peter Shumlin or Senator Patrick Leahy agreeing to sit down and hear public opposition, decisions will be made without their input and the people of Winooski will be forced to live in a louder place.
"I feel like they haven't heard our voice, if you're not willing to listen to the other side you don't deserve to be in office, I think that's part of your job," Brock Richardson said at the city council meeting.
Richardson is a contractor who moved to Winooski a year and a half ago planning to remodel homes in the growing city. Now he and his wife won't buy any new property for fear it won't sell. "The vast majority of houses in Winooski are going to be put into a 65 DNL zone, and that's a zone the Air Force has labeled as unsuitable for residential use," Richardson said.
Dozens spoke out against the jets at the council meeting. Although the Air Force could make its decision sometime this month, O'Brien maintains he and the council need more time to make up their minds, which means they might not weigh in at all.
"We as a council have taken a position, I'm a member of this council, I support the council," O'Brien said.
Many want to see a public hearing scheduled in Winooski with elected officials this January, without one, Richardson says he could be looking for a new home. "If the noise was so loud that I felt it was injurious to my health then yes I would leave," he said.
As of Monday, no such public meeting is on any agenda for January. O'Brien says one piece of information he's waiting for is an updated Environmental Impact Statement - it's unclear at this point when that will be released.
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