Airport Updates Inventory and Reuse Plan for Neighborhood Noise Land: Public Comment Period Open Through January 31

Home » City » Airport Updates Inventory and Reuse Plan for Neighborhood Noise Land: Public Comment Period Open Through January 31

Thursday December 22, 2016

While residents near the airport are trying to make an informed, life-altering decision about their homes, the Burlington International Airport is concurrently mapping plans for the land already purchased under the Land Acquisition Program.

What is the Land Inventory and Reuse Plan?

The formal process for determining the use of these lands is called a Land Inventory and Reuse Plan, an FAA-funded program that airports undergo when land is purchased under a Noise Compatibility Program.

The last update to the Land Inventory and Reuse Plan was completed in 2009, just before BIA’s Vision 2030 Master Plan was updated. The plan must be updated approximately every five years.

BIA and its consultant, Clough Harbour & Associates (CHA), hosted a public informational meeting on Dec. 14, following the initial March presentation of its draft Land Inventory and Reuse Plan. This draft includes short-term and mid-term recommendations for the land that are consistent with its longer-term, approved Master Plan.

The draft also includes recommendations from the City of South Burlington. These recommendations were pitched to the city council from the Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNAPC), which developed a report that reflects the land use and transportation goals that affected residents and community stakeholders envision for the surrounding neighborhood.

The purpose of the Land Inventory and Reuse Plan is to evaluate the future use and disposition of the land, which is defined as “noise land.” The airport has been acquiring properties for noise compatibility purposes under the FAA’s Part 150 Program since 1985.

A completed plan reclassifies the land and informs the FAA whether properties in the noise land should be retained for noise compatibility purposes or a noise buffer, if they are needed for other aviation-related purposes, or–if the airport determines it has no need for the land–if they can be transferred, exchanged or sold for non-aviation purposes (also known as “disposal” of land).

Disposal of noise land does not require the airport to sell the property if it finds another FAA-eligible purpose, but it must first remove incompatible uses (in this case, residential, so removal of homes), assembling the parcels (also known as “bundling”), and reserving the rights to ensure incompatible development is prevented. Additionally, the airport would retain an easement on disposed properties for land use compatibility, a “right to fly” and height restrictions as applicable.

The draft plan does not propose BIA sell any land; however, the airport could sell land at fair market value. The airport would not be allowed to profit from it since it would be in direct violation of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Grant Assurance 31, an obligation the airport agreed to meet when it accepted FAA funds. Therefore, the federal dollars from the land would be returned to the FAA’s Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

In order to plan for terminal area improvements such as parking, expanded gate areas, or new maintenance facilities, the plan includes data to help determine possible airport needs. According to the FAA’s Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) for BIA, enplanements are forecasted to grow in 2020 (670,947), and, with the exception of 2012, each year’s actual enplanements from 2010-2015 have exceeded TAF projections.

City - Airport Collaboration

Cut to the chase: what does this mean for South Burlington residents who will remain in the area? What will it mean for the city as a whole and continued communication between South Burlington and Burlington?

It could mean a number of different changes, from roadway closures of fully-vacated streets to an Airport Drive-Airport Parkway connector. It could mean that some of the land will be used for other airport use and that the open land where homes once stood will remain untouched and become a noise buffer (no additional buffering would be added, just the landscape itself).

It most certainly means that communication must be as clear as possible. For example, the city supports an Airport Drive-Airport Parkway connector near Kirby Road for local access, but it does not support a roadway for airport-dedicated access. Airport representatives have expressed that the latter would have a stronger chance of being funded since it is an airport-only use, whereas a roadway that serves the general public beyond airport use would likely need to seek alternative funding. No decision has been made on this matter, according to CHA: “In our plan, we don’t make a determination or recommendation to be a potential new road that’s airport-dedicated or a community-integrated public road. We just use that road for land use purposes,” CHA Market Segment Vice President-Aviation Paul McDonnell said.

The city has also stressed that any changes being made within the jurisdiction of South Burlington follow city regulations, align with city goals, and protect the safety and interests of neighbors in the surrounding area.

Furthermore, the acquired noise land is still zoned as residential, even though it’s now deemed an incompatible use. So, if the airport decided to develop on noise land, it would need to come before the planning commission and subsequently the city council. Planning commissioners reviewed this information at its meeting the night prior to the airport’s informational meeting.

“If the FAA said there needed to be a security fence somewhere, there are some things we’re preempted from doing, but in terms of zoning and redevelopment, that’s a local decision,” Paul Conner, the city’s director of planning and zoning, explained to commissioners at their meeting.

Moreover, if the airport were to pursue development for airport use that generates revenue, such as a hotel, it would be subject to South Burlington tax. In terms of any value of development, that is part of what was resolved in the tax agreement South Burlington and Burlington came to in August.

South Burlington has not taken a formal stance on “Exit 14N” I-89 interchange presented in the Airport’s 2030 Master Plan as it is not in the city’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan.

Recommendations: short, medium, and long-term plan

CHA presents a potential implementation schedule, but these terms do not have specific time frames associated with them. General recommendations are as follows:

Short term:

• Involves parcels being retained for either AIP-eligible development or noise buffer, specifically:
• Reserve property within 75 dB DNL contour and areas along Airport Drive that fall within 70 dB-75 dB DNL contour to allow for future airport development such as parking expansion, access to the right-of-way, passenger terminal growth, and other aviation-related facilities
• Properties not adjacent that fall within the 65-75 dB DNL range will be retained as a noise buffer between the airport and Chamberlin neighborhood
• Does not call for immediate development of airport facilities

The short-term map shows potential road closures along Delaware Street, Dumont Avenue, part of North Henry Street, Picard Circle, a portion of Kirby Road closest to the airport, and Airport Circle; Roads that provide exclusive access to homes will not be closed unless there is another plan for access. A roadway improvement is shown along the entire stretch of Airport Parkway, through the airport property, and partially on White Street. It also designates the land use areas, where the 2015/2020 noise contours fall, parcels acquired, and eligible parcels for acquisition.

Mid-Long term:

• Bundle the properties into larger tracts of land after Land Acquisition Program wraps up to simplify the redevelopment or release process
• Acquire road right-of-ways from the city of South Burlington that no longer contain any homes after Land Acquisition Program is completed (i.e. North Henry Court, Dumont Avenue, Delaware Street, etc.). Acquisition price is set by an appraiser and negotiated fair market value at the time of acquisition
• Some ‘through-roads’ may be converted to cul-de-sacs (i.e. Elizabeth and Patrick Streets)
• Property Exchange with the city of South Burlington in lieu of right-of-way acquisition (i.e. locations southwest of proposed access road, which are recommended to be a noise buffer but can be transferred to the city) and include fair market value appraisals; any land exchanged with South Burlington would be located outside the 75 dB DNL

The mid-term map expands on the short-term by showing the Airport Drive– Airport Parkway connector, more road closures, and the Airport Drive right-of-way. There is a separate map about how to bundle approximately 175 parcels into 17 potential tracts as well as a map displaying potential land exchange sites.

A map of the airport’s 2030 Master Plan shows expansive changes, including a connection to I-89, and future amenities such as parking, a hotel, airport maintenance building, car wash facility, and landslide development.

Broken down, retaining land for a noise buffer would account for about 20 acres, converting land to AIP-eligible airport development land would account for approximately 50 acres, and acquiring South Burlington road right-of-ways or exchanging land would account for about nine acres, according to CHA.

Once the Land Acquisition Program is complete, South Burlington and the airport could tentatively go through the right-of-way or land exchange process as soon as 2019-2020, followed by road removal, bundling acquired properties, implementing road improvements, re-assessing noise land for disposal, and implementing Airport Master Plan development in subsequent years.

To view the entire plan, visit

The airport is accepting questions and comments through January 31 before submitting the plan to the FAA. Director of Aviation Gene Richards is available at or 802-863-2874, ext. 200, and Nic Longo, director of planning and development, is available at ext. 2336 and

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent