Thursday January 01, 1970
On March 2, South Burlington’s Administrative Officer approved a request by Burlington International Airport (BIA) to demolish 54 residences near the airport. George Maille, longtime resident of Logwood Street, then filed an appeal to the Director of Planning and Zoning. As far back as the 1990s, BIA has been purchasing and demolishing residences in the neighborhood adjacent to the airport. There are 150 residences slated for demolition in the airport’s current long-range plan.
Back in April 2009, the City approved an agreement with Burlington International Airport to gather noise assessment data in order to determine whether steps needed to be taken to alleviate excessive noise in the surrounding neighborhood. After multiple requests, the assessment data was presented to the City Council on March 26th. The report can be found on the City’s website, www.sburl.com.
The agreement (never formally signed by the parties, according to City Director of Planning Paul Conner) states that the purpose of noise testing was to “determine the effectiveness of the proposed living wall and also to explore the effect [on the level of noise on adjacent properties] of removing structures from properties.” The goal of this determination was to assure that the public and, in particular, those living in the immediate neighborhood of the airport, were not adversely impacted in terms of their health, safety and general welfare.
After some delays, the noise assessment was begun in late 2010:
1) to ensure that any resident living within the 65 DNL contour has the opportunity to relocate and receive appropriate benefits from the sale of their property. (A DNL contour is an area in the environs of an airport that is impacted by noise over a 24-hour period. Sixty-five DNL is the minimum FAA defined noise level which is considered significant);
2) to determine the relative differential between noise levels taken over comparable periods of time at locations within and outside of the 65 DNL contour;
3) to avoid an increase in noise levels resulting from actions taken on property between the airport and the 65 DNL line due to the removal of structures;
4) to test the effectiveness of the “living wall” as a noise buffer in place of formerly existing structures;
5) to consider additional options for noise buffers such as earthen berms and/or dense growth plantings.
Noise monitoring was to be conducted in accordance with Procedures for outdoor Measurement of Sound Pressure Level, Method I - General Measurements as detailed in ANSI Standard S12.18-1994. These standards place some restrictions on conditions under which sound level measurements may be taken in order to ensure reliable results. Factors that may restrict consideration of resulting measurements involve wind speed, precipitation, location of the measuring device relative to the sound source and degree of cloud cover.
BIA built an experimental “living wall” where residences used to be located along Airport Parkway in order to determine if such a structure could serve as an effective sound barrier for the residential neighborhood. Sound measurements were supposed to have been taken both before and after its installation so that its efficacy could be evaluated.
At the upcoming appeal hearing, Maille will contend that permission for the demolition of the properties was granted in error by the City’s Administrative Officer based upon an incorrect interpretation of South Burlington Land Development Regulation 14.03. The hearing will be held at the DRB meeting on Tuesday night, May 1 at 7:30 in City Hall, 575 Dorset St. The DRB hears all appeals of the Administrative Officer.
In compliance with the appeal process, Maille spent last Saturday posting placards on the 54 properties in question and preparing a mailing warning the May 1st public hearing to be sent to all abutting property owners.
There are several compelling arguments against the granting of the demolition zoning permits, says Maille. First, demolishing the structures in the neighborhoods surrounding the airport necessarily converts the properties on which they are located from residential to non-residential usage, which goes against South Burlington’s Land Development Regulations (specifically, LDR 14.03). LDR 14.03 stipulates that such a change in usage requires Site Plan Approval, Public Warning and subsequent Development Review Board review and approval. Evidence of BIA’s intention for non-residential use, says Maille, is clear because the plans call for demolition, termination of water, sewer and power as well as leveling and filling of cellars. Maille will also contend that the sound level measurement process has not been completed adequately and that, by law, it must precede any demolition. There is some evidence of potential hazards to the community’s health and well-being which may result from demolition of structures built to codes as they existed in the 1950s and 60s.
SOURCE: Lois Price, Correspondent