Airport Related Conversations Continue

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Thursday December 07, 2017

The City of South Burlington has been continuing their dialogue with the Burlington International Airport and the City of Burlington in recent months regarding items such as regional governance, noise mitigation for residents near the airport, and more recently, purported suspicious activity on South Burlington streets adjacent to the airport.

Although the agenda for Monday night’s council meeting contained only two items related to airport noise, the thread of communication seemed to weave itself into nearly every conversation; showcasing precisely how important these neighboring relationships are to both the fiscal and residential health of the South Burlington community.

To that end, a technical advisory committee made up of representatives from South Burlington and neighboring towns and cities was developed by the airport earlier this fall. The committee is a conduit for the city to comment on various noise mitigation measures they would like to see undertaken for their residents. Although they are open to the public, the 5 p.m. meeting time makes it a challenge for working residents to attend. In an effort to capture resident voices, Councilor Meaghan Emery drafted a survey at the last council meeting and after receiving feedback and approval from fellow councilors, it was distributed widely across social media, Front Porch Forum, and on the city website. Questions include whether or not Chamberlin residents like where they live, if they think their homes are appreciating in value, if they are impacted by noise and if so, how often, as well as what types of noise mitigation measures they think would meet their needs.

On December 4, the council reviewed the survey data received from 131 residents thus far and determined that the survey should remain open until an end date yet to be decided. The current data will be presented at the next technical advisory committee meeting, which was scheduled for December 5.

In terms of more direct communication venues,Council Chair Helen Riehle met last month with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Winooski Mayor Seth Leonard to discuss items of mutual interest and concern. At that meeting, Riehle addressed Burlington’s lack of response to South Burlington’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sent in June. The MOU stressed the city’s desire to terminate the practice of demolishing homes in the Chamberlin neighborhood and requested that the South Burlington City Council be consulted on provisions within the proposed update of the BIA Noise Compatibility Plan that affect South Burlington alone. Following the meeting, the city received correspondence from Burlington’s attorney explaining that they would not be signing onto such an agreement; no alternative was offered.

Riehle will meet with Weinberger and Leonard again on December 15 to continue the airport conversation, and fellow councilors offered suggestions on items for discussion such as moving the Lily Lane homes, the airport’s future plans for the properties they own, methods for input regarding items that affect South Burlington directly and airport governance.

In addition to the technical advisory committee and Riehle’s meetings with Weinberger, the council also addressed a letter Riehle received from Aviation Director Gene Richards in late August requesting restriction of access to Picard Circle and Kirby Road Extension. Richards cited the airport’s discovery of both needles and vagrants in the general vicinity and was hoping to block off these streets to traffic. Upon receipt of this letter, City Manager Kevin Dorn and Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard began surveying the area at various times of day and asked the police to step up patrols of the area. After numerous visits to the sites neither Dorn, Hubbard, nor the police found anything unusual occurring at those locations.

The council asked Dorn to respond to Richard’s letter, supporting the airport’s right to put up jersey barriers. However, due to statutory obligations, it was determined that the streets must be kept open.


SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent