At a Thursday morning press conference, Winooski Democrat Rep. George Cross announced he's drawing up a resolution and a bill aimed at slowing the F-35's possible arrival in Vermont. He had the backing of only a few legislators, but many faces familiar to the Burlington debate.
"We're not asking that it never come to Burlington, we're asking that we delay the decision," Cross said.
The federal government considers Burlington a top option for staging its newest fighter jet. But Cross and others worry the plane's arrival could bring exceedingly high noise levels and correlated health problems for the thousands living near the airport.
The draft resolution calls for more hearings and the removal of Burlington from the first round of Air Force consideration. The bill proposes creating an adverse impact compensation program composed of a fund to offset residents' costs and a board to oversee payouts.
"The mechanics of just how the fund will work and where the money will come from have yet to be worked out," Cross said.
In the draft, Cross floats the idea of fueling the fund with 20 percent of the guard's state appropriation, and a $20 landing fee at Burlington International.
"I think it's important to our guard and our economy that they are based here," said Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington.
Wright says he hasn't read the drafts yet, but generally supports the F-35's arrival. He's not alone either; Burlington's mayor, the governor, and Vermont's congressional delegation have all spoken in favor of the jet.
Cross concedes the measures likely won't move beyond committee, but says the measures deserve a legislative dogfight.
Cross says he expects to finalize and submit his proposed resolution and bill by the end of the week or early next week.
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