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Public meeting held on F-35 noise impact

(WCAX)
Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 12:57 AM EDT
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While the debate is over about the basing of F-35s at the Burlington airport, the conversation continues on how to help people who have to live with the noise of the fighter jets.

Since the announcement of the F-35s several years ago, advocates and protesters have made their voices heard. That was still the case at a meeting on Thursday night at the airport to discuss sound abatement options.

"I don't think we need them in a populated area," said Collie Chambers, a Burlington resident.

"No, I'm not really opposed to them," South Burlington resident Chuck Opferman said.

Airport and FAA officials answered questions from the public about the noise exposure maps with a focus on those living in the zone considered unsuitable for living.

"We want to hear from property owners and folks in the area," said Nick Longo of the Burlington International Airport. "Right now, there are three major programs that we are offering which give the homeowner different options."

Those programs include sound insulation, where the airport will get money to pay for insulated doors and windows for your home.

The second is to purchase assurance, which means the airport will buy your house and resell it with the insulated doors and windows.

The third option is that they will help you sell your house by setting a fair market value and then filling the gap if it sells for less.

The response from homeowners was mixed.

"Find out what kind of plans they are going to have for noise abatement," South Burlington resident Bruce Bevins said.

"It affects my neighborhood, I want to know the latest information of what's going on," Chambers said.

"I'm open-minded to all of it because I'm not sure what's going to happen," Opferman said.

As homeowners asked questions, protesters made sure they were seen and heard. While the jets aren't going anywhere, officials say residents still have a month to offer input on how the money is spent.

There is still a lot of work to do before the program is implemented, which included getting final approval from the FAA.

Leaders from Madison, Wisconsin, were in Burlington all week to see how the stakeholders are handling the F-35s. The state representatives and local leaders spent the week talking to people negatively impacted by the fighter jets. They were joined by protesters at the airport and expressed their opposition to the jets.

The Air National Guard is considering Madison as a future site for the next batch of F-35s.

"So I'm here to really see what is that significant negative impact and what do the people who live here have to say," said Rep. Chris Taylor from Wisconsin

The group from Wisconsin was traveling back to Madison on Thursday.