Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee:Part II: Noise and Land Use

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Thursday August 06, 2015

Picking up after its previous discussion about affordability & community and mobility, the Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Committee (CNAPC) reconvened Monday, July 13 at the Burlington International Airport (BIA) to talk about two more important topics: noise and land use.

The CNAPC decided on the four aforementioned points based on the major themes identified in a May community forum.

First, BIA Director of Aviation Gene Richards and Director of Planning and Development Nicolas Longo reviewed three primary projects that are underway: 1.) An update to the Noise Exposure Map, 2.) Noise Use/ Reuse Plan, and 3.) the Noise Compatibility Program.

The Noise Exposure Map shows an average level of contours projecting out from the airport, particularly the 65 dnl (Average Day-Night Sound Levels) contour line. This computer module map is approved by the FAA and is a hybrid between the public version of the map and the military version. This study will be ongoing throughout the rest of this calendar year.

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.

The Noise Compatibility Program will look to the community and committee for land use suggestions, Longo said. This is in the airport’s capital plan and will commence sometime next summer; this also uses federal dollars.

“I don’t really know what we’re up against…do we have any options to do any land use planning?” Committee member John Simson asked.

Lee Krohn, senior planner for the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, said that the consultant, Resource Systems Group Inc., has a list of uses that may or may not be compatible legally (FAA Table 1: Land Use Compatibility with Yearly Day-Night Sound Levels), which is broken down into five decibel categories. However, Simson pointed out that the chart still doesn’t address what uses would be acceptable should they request something outside the list of uses. Richards said the airport will consult with the FAA regarding what the public wants.

“We want to make sure that we follow the rules, and if there’s a way to make it happen, I want to make it happen,” Richards said.

“Get dreamy, but also make sure you’re representing your neighborhood,” Richards said.

Committee member Marc Companion asked what steps would need to be taken in order to assess the possibility of the noise land line shifting, and what it would mean for those affected.

“If all of a sudden they can’t sell their home or the home loses a significant value because they’re in this expanded noise land, I think it behooves this committee to give them the answer they need so that they can plan for their future,” he said.

Richards asked that this item--among other questions asked, particularly those beyond the authority of the airport-- be sent to him via email, and the airport will seek answers.

For the brainstorm session, Planning and Zoning Director Paul Conner broke the topics down into four categories:

• How potential funds get used to address within the 65 dnl line
• Potential land uses other than homes
• Other topics of noise mitigation that are not necessarily about an individual home (reducing impacts of noise in neighborhood in general)
• Land use that has nothing to do with airport (i.e. front porches)

For the first topic, Maille addressed possible grant opportunities due to the airport’s location.

“South Burlington may be eligible for grant money under an improvement program...which would allow for a pool of money to be used for structural improvements for homes,” he said.

Committee member Kim Robinson provided an example of an airport community, West Hollywood, that received FAA funding for noise mitigation worth up to 50 percent of the value of each home.

Companion said that it would be helpful to know the range of mitigation strategies that have been used in other areas.

Simson also included the possibility of individuals assessing sound levels.

“I wonder if anyone’s come up with a revolving loan fund that people could tap into to do sound mitigation in their own homes....Let’s not reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Some mitigation improvements could be beneficial to homes, but shifting to the third topic, the committee contemplated other noise mitigation methods beyond an individual home. Maille said that the closer the noise mitigation is to the source of the noise, the higher the success rate. Therefore, committee members agreed it would be worth asking what the FAA/airport would be willing to do in terms of mitigating noise directly on-site.

For the land use discussion, the committee talked about the potential for land swap opportunities; Richards said his team will look into the possibilities.

Committee Chair Carmine Sargent said prioritizing an improvement or extension of Airport Drive could influence land use.

Sargent added that this could be an opportunity for the neighborhood to establish an identity. Filling the neighborhood with art, perhaps with grant money from the Vermont Arts Council, or having an airport museum are some ways the airport and neighborhood could be more unified.

“When I’m thinking of land use, I’m not really thinking of commerce,” she said.
“ I’m really thinking of people and neighborhood community and how we can make it a more livable area,” she said.

Passive and active open space, gathering spots like a senior or community center and landscaping are among some of the uses that have been brought up in previous discussions as well.

The date of the next CNAPC meeting has not been set, but Robinson asked if a neighborhood survey could be shared to encourage more public input. There will be two community forums before the committee sends a recommendation to the city council and planning commission.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent