By Cory Dawson
January 5, 2018
A group of city residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put an item on the March ballot asking the City Council to oppose basing F-35 fighter jets at the Burlington International Airport.
The move is the latest in a long-running dispute over the new warplanes. Since the Air Force first sent notice in 2009 that it was considering the airport as one of the locations it would send F-35’s, groups of residents have sought to oppose them.
Charles Simpson, a local activist, retired professor and Progressive City Council candidate, is leading the charge to get the ballot item to voters in March. Simpson is part of a group opposed to basing the planes in Burlington.
Several members of that group, along with the City of Winooski, lost a court battle in 2016 challenging the findings of a U.S. Department of Defense environmental study that gave a green light to deploying the planes at the airport.
The Vermont Air National Guard’s current fleet of 18 F-16 aircraft will begin to be replaced with new F-35’s as early as next year. The F-35 will be used in Burlington nearly 5,500 times per year — a slower pace than current F-16 flights — and will be significantly louder than F-16s. Houses closest to the airport have been vacated and sold through a Federal Aviation Administration program that buys homes severely affected by noise pollution.
The ballot item language, which is advisory and non-binding, asks the City Council to request cancelling the warplanes coming to Burlington and to request quieter military equipment.[FULL ARTICLE]