MSK Attorneys Fighting for Just Compensation for Property Owners in Winooski, Williston, South Burlington as F35s Come to Burlington Airport
Beginning in September 2019, there will be 18 active F35 jets and 2 reserve jets based at Burlington International Airport (BTV). These jets create far greater aircraft noise than the F-16 jets previously based at the airport, which will lead to impacts from jet noise in Winooski, Williston and South Burlington. FAA noise reduction grants may be available for impacted homeowners and for municipal buildings, but the amount of these grants and the proposed timeline for implementation are insufficient for impacted residents. Further, the grants are not available to owners of commercial properties.
The mission of MSK Attorneys is to seek damages in the U.S. Court of Claims for those property owners who can show that the F35 overflights will cause noise and vibration such that they constitute a taking, defined as a direct and immediate interference with the enjoyment and use of their land.
What is Wrong with the Current FAA Grant Proposal for F35 Jet Noise in Vermont?
- There is no Assurance that Congress will Appropriate Sufficient Funds
- There is no Timetable for When the Grants will be Made Available
- The Grants are not Available to Owners of Commercial Property
FAA grants of up to $100 million will be available on a geographic basis, beginning with those closest to the runways. However, according to the BTV Director of Aviation, as quoted in Seven Days, “the availability of FAA mitigation grants depends, in part, on the whims of Congress and the size of the federal budget.” Impacted landowners should receive the damages they are due, and not be forced to put their faith in the whims of Congress.
There is no set timeline for when grants will be available or process in place to expedite noise remediation in impacted schools and homes. Although the impacts will begin in September, the grants may not be available for “many years.” As BTV Deputy Director of Aviation Nick Longo told Seven Days Vermont, “The property owners need to understand that we are moving forward very quickly in this process, but depending on your geographic location within the contour lines, it may be many years before you receive federal funding to mitigate.” (Emphasis added).
“This isn’t a quick boat that you can shift directions quickly, this is a cruise ship that takes a long time to change direction, and a lot of communication with the FAA and approval from the FAA. Ultimately it’s going to be the FAA decision on what happens to replace these incompatible land uses,” Longo added.
Vermont F35 Noise Map: Who Is Impacted by fighter jets at Burlington Airport?
A noise map from a study commissioned by the City of Burlington, Vermont assessed the likely jet noise impact from F35 aircraft around Burlington Airport:
According to this study, any structures within the 75-decibel noise zone, largely confined to the airport itself, will be uninhabitable. Structures within the 70-decibel noise zone will be habitable with significant soundproofing. Structures within the 65-decibel noise zone will be habitable with some level of soundproofing. It is important to realize that these decibel levels represent a 24-hour average, NOT the actual noise generated by the F35s on takeoff.
Noise levels above 75 decibels have been linked to health problems when they are ongoing in the environment. -F35 jets can generate up to 150 decibels on takeoff.
Anyone in the area near the airport in South Burlington, Winooski and Williston is likely to be impacted by F35 fighter jet noise. Those within zones with a greater than 65 decibel average may experience noise and vibrations that make living and working impossible. MSK intends to fight for just and timely compensation for these individuals and businesses.
How Does MSK Attorneys Plan to Address These Disruptions?
There is no avenue to suspend or delay basing of the F35 jets in Burlington. The only option available to impacted individuals is to wait for FAA noise program grants, which could take years to process and may not be funded sufficiently, or to join MSK in a challenge in the U.S. Court of Claims.
To prevail in this case, MSK Attorneys must prove that noise and vibrations from F35 jets amount to a “taking” under the law. To satisfy the legal test, three conditions must be met:
- Plaintiffs must be in the flight path of the F35 jets.
- Noise and vibration, based on altitude and frequency of flights, must be enough to constitute a taking.
- Direct and immediate interference with the enjoyment and use of the land must be impaired.
This legal action is open to homeowners, commercial property owners and municipalities in the affected area. Tenants of apartment buildings are not eligible to join this action, but owners of rental property are. Industrial and manufacturing facilities are excluded from the FAA noise grant program but may be eligible for this legal action.
By bringing this case to the U.S. Court of Claims, MSK Attorneys seeks to provide more immediate and more substantial relief for impacted individuals than can be expected under the FAA noise grant program. Some structures, including homes and schools, will be unusable once regular F35 jet operations begin. Those impacted by F35 jet noise can join us in taking this action to seek expedited relief, up to and including the full, fair-market purchase prices of homes and other buildings.
MSK Attorneys is a respected Vermont real estate firm with decades of experience in permitting, land use and government actions. We strongly encourage you to contact us online or call us at 1-802-861-7000 to participate in this legal action.