The U.S. Air Force is expected to decide where it will base the new F-35 fighter jets by the end of the year. The Burlington International Airport, which houses the Vermont National Guard, is one of the preferred sites. Two cities near the flight path for the proposed F-35 fighter jet held hearings last night regarding the Air Force plan to house the plane in Vermont. One of the city councils reversed a previous vote and will now support the new jet.
Last year, the South Burlington City council voted 4-1 to oppose bringing the F-35 jets to the National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport. Councilors were concerned about the impact of noise from the planes. On Town Meeting Day in March, two of the city councilors who opposed the planes were voted out of office and replaced by councilors who support the F-35s. The South Burlington city council was then asked to reconsider its position. Following a nearly three-hour public hearing Monday night, the council reversed the earlier decision, voting 3-2 in favor of housing the F-35s at the airport.
South Burlington City Council Chair Pam Mackenzie, a supporter of the jet, says more than 200 people attended the hearing. She believes there are three core reasons to bring the jet to the airport.
City Councilor Roseanne Greco is one of the two to vote against supporting the F35. An outspoken critic, she is now presenting concerns over the impact of jet noise on children, especially since there is an elementary school a quarter-mile from the airport. Greco is planning another hearing tonight at the Chamberlin School to discuss that issue.
Green Ribbons for the F-35s is a group that supports basing the F-35s at the airport. Creator Nicole Citro was at the South Burlington hearing. She finds it curious that opponents are bringing up noise impacts on children so late in the conversation.
The neighboring community of Winooski also held a public meeting on the F-35 on Monday evening. City councilors there postponed further consideration until Wednesday.