Airport Completes Home Removal Project: What’s Next for South Burlington

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Thursday October 29, 2015

Earlier this fall, the City bid farewell to the final home demolished under the Burlington International Airport’s home removal project, marking the end of a chapter and triggering a new one.

According to Burlington International Airport Director of Aviation Gene Richards, all three phases of the project went smoothly and without many complaints.

“We built relationships throughout the summer with some amazing people that lived in the neighborhood,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for the airport to do what it had promised the neighborhood.”

Well above 42 percent of materials were recycled during the process, according to Bernie Gagnon, resident engineer for Stantec Consulting/airport neighbor.
As a result, BIA received an Honorable Mention award on behalf of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) at the Airports Going Green Conference.

With this major project under its belt and accolades to tout, the airport has its eyes set on the future with a number of projects in mind or underway, which begs the question: what’s next for South Burlington?

Noise Exposure Map

One of the projects the airport is working on is an updated Noise Exposure Map (NEM). What is a Noise Exposure Map? What does it mean? What is the process of creating one?

FAA required, Noise Exposure Maps are computer-modulated maps that display average levels of sound, illustrated by contours. In the recently completed home buyout program, the airport used federal funding for homeowners of properties that fall within a 65 dnl (day-night average sound level) contour of the airport’s operations, to buy their homes. A new map, with different results, could change who is eligible when the airport applies for funds.

Since this is a computer-modulated map, there were no sound monitors placed outside homes to track sound levels.

“When they do the modeling, they type in that there’s a house there, they type that there’s not a house there. It takes that all into consideration,” Director of Aviation Gene Richards said.

“And it considers much more, too: geography, ground operations, military operations, helicopter operations, all of that,” added Nicolas Longo, Burlington International Airport’s Director of Planning & Development.

Historically, the map has shown two different methodologies: the FAA methodology and the Vermont Air National Guard’s methodology. The FAA model is based on a full-year of operation (365 days). The military model uses 228 days.

“These contour lines that everyone looks at are average levels of sound. They’re not decibel levels. They’re average levels of sound weighted throughout a 24-hour day,” Longo explained.

In 2012, the airport applied for a grant to work on the Noise Exposure Map. After receiving the grant the same year, the airport hired Harris Miller Miller & Hanson as its consultant. In 2013, the airport and consultant started the mapping procedures under CFR Part 150 regulations. In November 2014, the airport, with coordination of the FAA and Air National Guard, concluded on a new methodology. The results of the new map are nearing completion, and there will be a public process of introducing the map and answering questions.

“We’re trying to be transparent and honest with everything we do,” Richards stated. “I believe this model is the best model for the airport.”

The document is recommended every five years, especially if federal funds are needed or there are significant changes. If a new one isn’t created, the airport can certify it if it goes beyond five years to still receive funding, Longo said.

Sound Mitigation Program

According to Richards, with the completion of a new Noise Exposure Map, the airport plans to apply for a Sound Mitigation Program that will help noise-proof qualifying homes.

“We’re going to apply and hire a consultant so people can buy windows, doors, insulation, and possibly HVAC systems,” Richards said.

These materials would help insulate the noise from airport and military operations, but they will also be more energy-efficient.

“We think this will help the housing stock. Some homes are 30-50 years old,” he added. “Instead of buying homes, that’s what we’re doing.”

Other Projects

Future Land use/reuse: The Noise Use/Reuse Plan is an inventory of all the airport’s land acquired with federal dollars. This document must be submitted to the FAA every five years. This is part of the airport’s grant assurances, and it explains the process for potential land use and how it’s needed for airport development uses. Richards said the consultant working on this will meet with the Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee’s consultant to streamline communication. This was recommended by City Manager Kevin Dorn and Council Chair Pat Nowak, he said.

Hotel: The airport plans on a hotel and has sent out a Request For Proposal (RFP). The hotel would be either adjacent to the north end of the parking garage, or at the south end of the parking garage. These efforts should help block the neighborhood, Richards said.

Taxiway K: Currently, airlines have to use a taxiway closest to the neighborhood to get to the end of the runway. The airport received approximately $3 million in grant funds to build a new taxiway that would extend across the premises and directly away from the airport. This project commences this month and is part of Phase 1 of the aforementioned Noise Mitigation Program.

Apron project: This project is now finished for fall; there were some complaints due to the vibration of the roller, but there was nothing that could be done to mitigate it.

FAA annual safety inspection: This was recently completed, and the airport performed outstandingly, Richards said.

The Quick Turn Around rental car facility: This will be replaced in either early spring or mid-summer and finished during the first quarter the following year.

New restaurant: an RFP for a restaurant inside the airport is underway.

What’s Next?

Want to participate in South Burlington’s future and relationship with the Burlington International Airport? The Chamberlin Airport Neighborhood Planning Committee will have another public outreach forum, scheduled tentatively for this fall. For further questions about the airport, contact Richards at 802-863-2874, x200 or grichards@btv.aero, the BTV Operations Team at 802-316-6014, or connect with the South Burlington City Manager’s office at 802-846-4107.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent