Airport Announces Buyout Program for 39 More Homes: Sound Mitigation Committee Updates Land Acquisition and Noise Compatibility Programs

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Thursday September 22, 2016

Update: The airport was officially approved for the Noise Compatibility Plan as of Tuesday afternoon, September 20. 

South Burlington, Winooski, Williston, and Burlington all had a seat at the table at Burlington International Airport for its first Sound Mitigation Committee meeting September 14.

Chaired by Nic Longo, the airport’s director of planning and development, and co-chaired by Gene Richards, the director of aviation, the committee aims to include a variety of stakeholders to discuss existing and potential effects sound has on the region and to collaborate toward creating solutions.

Though in draft form, the committee’s mission lists the following:

• To continue to advocate for proactive solutions to BTV and community issues
• To involve the membership of the Burlington International Airport Sound Mitigation Committee, “BTV SMC,” in the management of the airport related community issues with quarterly meetings each year
• To assess plans/policies and work toward change when needed
• To work together toward further understanding and implementation of federal, state, and local noise mitigation solutions, and
• To assess and discuss the magnitude of effects that arise when operations, policy, or strategic plans change

South Burlington City Council appointed City Manager Kevin Dorn, Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner, and two members of the Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNPAC)– Chair Carmine Sargent and George Maille (chair of CNAPC’s Noise Subcommittee)–to represent the city. Councilors Helen Riehle, and Pat Nowak who is also an airport commissioner, were in attendance as well.

In addition, Essex Village, Essex town, and Colchester were invited, as were representatives from the Vermont Air National Guard, Vermont Army National Guard, FAA Air Traffic Control, the airport’s director of engineering and director of operations, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, and Heritage Aviation (the airport’s fixed-base operator).

“Today’s goal is really about education,” Longo said, explaining how it will provide more context in the greater noise discussion. “We have a few speakers to go over the operations of the airport–the why we do things, the how we do things, and the safety aspect.”

Specifically, the airport had presentations lined up from Burlington Air Traffic Control, the Vermont Air National Guard, the Vermont Army National Guard, and Jones Payne Group, the consultant the airport hired to help with relocation efforts for existing homeowners as well as updating the Noise Compatibility Program if the airport receives the FAA grant this year.

Burlington Approves FAA Grants for Buyouts and Noise

The first committee meeting also revealed some big, recent news: the Burlington City Council approved an estimated $14 million FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant ($13,995,000) for home buyouts; a total of 39 homes are eligible to participate in the program. Five homes are currently being acquired.

“We want to end the home purchase program,” Richards said. “We’re hoping to do that within 18-24 months or sooner.”
The total cost of the project, if all property owners choose to sell, is an estimated 16 million (about $15,550,000), and the grant will cover 90 percent of those costs at nearly 14 million. The state’s share would be six percent, or $933,000, and the local share would be $622,000, or four percent. Due to the sensitive timing of the federal fiscal year end of Sept. 30, 2016, the FAA requested a quick sponsor approval and execution of the grant. The airport hopes to be officially approved for the grant by the FAA as soon as September 30.
The Jones Payne Group, with expertise in federal programs and assistance with properties, will be in charge of reaching out to residents eligible for the home buyout and then reporting back to the airport.
Diane Bryant Carter of Jones Payne Group was in attendance and spoke more to this point as well as about the current options under the Noise Compatibility Program. When she reviewed the updated 2020 Noise Exposure Maps (which do not take into account the arrival of F-35s) and a map of the 2016 noise acquisition land, Conner noticed a group of homes on the north side of Kirby Road highlighted in the red–homes eligible for the buyout.
“It seems to be larger than the last [iteration] that I’ve seen; it seems to go all the way up to the Kirby cottages there,” he said. When Longo confirmed this, Conner replied, “this is the first time we’re seeing this.”
The new acquisition project follows the recent demolition of over 90 neighborhood homes and includes homes along Airport Parkway, Delaware St., Dumont Ave., Kirby Rd., Ledoux Terr., Lily Ln., S. Henry Ct., Shamrock Rd., and White St. All land in this application is impacted by airport noise at a level of 70dB DNL according to the December 2015 Noise Exposure Map.
Longo said that all residents will be informed. That said, if there is a change at the airport, like the F-35s, that will trigger a new Noise Exposure Map, the airport will apply for another grant to get the work done.

Following the home buyout program, Richards explained that the airport would like to move forward with updating the Noise Compatibility Program (NCP), which was last updated in 2008 and would include a noise insulation program for eligible homes. This step is contingent on completion of the final round of home buyouts.
It is also contingent on funding. Last week, the City of Burlington also approved a $405,000 FAA AIP grant for the Noise Compatibility Program. The total project cost is estimated at $450,000, so the FAA grant would again cover 90 percent of the cost. The state’s six percent share would account for $27,000 and the local share of four percent would be $18,000, all with up to a maximum 15 percent overage allowance as per standard grant terms.
Therefore, the airport will be updating the existing program with a focus on land use measures; the airport is currently working on land acquisition and relocation, but the NCP also provides opportunity for sound insulation, sales assistance, purchase assurance, easement acquisition for new development, and real estate disclosure.
For the sound insulation land use measures, the homes must be assessed, and existing interior noise level must be above 45 dB DNL to qualify. Once homes are approved, they will receive acoustical windows and doors in exchange for an aviation easement. The improvements are aimed to reduce the noise level to 45 dB DNL.
Per Sargent’s inquiry, Chamberlin School would have the opportunity to be assessed as well for the insulation program.
The committee will have its next meeting in December. Presentation materials will be posted on the airport’s website, under the Chamberlin Neighborhood Info tab, located at the top of the site.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold