Winooski is a small, but densely populated city, which lies just across the river from Burlington, VT. It is part of the Greater Burlington Area, a group of connected cities and one third of Vermont’s total population. Winooski’s downtown has recently undergone major improvements and the city has started to flourish. It is filled with young families who have put everything they have into fixing up their houses. In December, a decision will be made that would cause 78% of the homes in Winooski, as well as significant parts of South Burlington, to be considered “incompatible with residential use.” See the red part of the map above. Burlington has been named a preferred beddown site for the F-35 fighter/bomber, and we have only a short time before the decision is finalized. With the right documents, we can show that Burlington should not even be a candidate.
According to the Air Force’s F-35 Operational Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the new fighter jets will cause 2944 homes in the Burlington Area to fall within the 65 DNL zone. Living in this zone has negative health consequences both physical (hearing damage, stress-related cardiovascular disease), and psychological (anxiety, cognitive impairment in children, etc.). Hearing one of these planes fly 1000 ft above you is like hearing a jackhammer or a chainsaw only 3 ft away. Property within the 65 DNL zone should be purchased and demolished, but in Vermont, residents will have to remain in this zone without compensation for their lowered property values. For more info, see the Save Our Skies website and Stop the f-35 website.
So why has Burlington International Airport been chosen as a preferred site when it is so close to a large city center? We believe it was a simple error. The scoring sheet asked if there were homes in the accident and noise areas, and the answer for Burlington was “no,” despite the 2944 homes mentioned in the Air Force’s draft Environmental Impact Statement. Ignoring this error, our Congressional delegates are supporting the F-35 beddown in Vermont. Previous FOIA requests by the Burlington Free Press for the public release of the complete scoring data have been denied by the Air Force. See this video news coverage.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, we request the release of the complete scoring data used to determine the preferred beddown sites for the F-35. We also request that you postpone the final decision until after we are able to review the score sheets. We have a right to investigate the error that may ruin our communities with slashed housing values, lower tax revenues, abandoned homes, higher crime rates and declining schools.