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Opponents file suit to keep F-35 from landing in Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Opponents file suit to keep F-35 from landing in Vt.

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

South Burlington resident David Deslauriers is the only resident left on his block, but he's in the midst of home improvements. The military veteran is adding an extra layer of siding to keep the sound of commercial and fighter planes out.

"It's not soundproof, but it's actually livable inside the home," Deslauriers said.

Deslauriers lives within shouting distance of Burlington International Airport. He's one of eight people suing the U.S. Air Force for deciding to base its newest fighter jet in Burlington.

Bristol-based attorney Jim Dumont filed the complaint June 30.

"Most of the problems that are addressed in this large document have to do with the fact that we have a very noisy plane in an urban environment," Dumont said.

The 39-page legal challenge accuses the federal government of taking shortcuts while determining where to base 18-24 F-35 jets. Dumont says the noise produced by the new planes will increase the size of uninhabitable area surrounding the airport and says the Air Force ignored health, environmental, socioeconomic and historic preservation concerns, despite legal requirements to do so.

"When you have a document like this one that hides the most important facts the whole process is a sham," Dumont said.

Dumont says the most egregious oversight in the final environmental impact statement and its precursors is a lack of acknowledgement for a scenario in which neither the current fleet of F-16s nor a future fleet of F-35s are present.

"That could mean that there would no longer be a mission for the Vermont Air National Guard," said Nicole Citro, who runs Green Ribbons for the F-35, a group that supports the plane's scheduled Burlington arrival in 2020.

Citro says she's confident the lawsuit won't ground plans for the jets. She says the Air National Guard is an economic engine for the community, contributing $50 million to the financial health of the area.

"That means a lot to this community to have the base here," Citro said.

Deslauriers believes noise from F-16s may contribute to his health problems.

"But this is my home. I've been here 30 years and I'll probably be here until I decide to not be here anymore," he said.

An Air Force spokesperson told WCAX News they have received the complaint, but would not say anything further given the pending lawsuit.

Click here for more stories about the F-35.

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