* This Resolution constitutes the City Council’s comments on “DRAFT Noise Land Inventory and Re-Use Plan Update/ Burlington International Airport (BTV)/ FAA AIP NO. 3-09-0000-094-2012/ December 2016.”
WHEREAS, South Burlington is home to the Burlington International Airport (“Airport” or “BIA”), an important contributor to the local, regional, and statewide economy; and,
WHEREAS, the South Burlington City Council believes it is imperative that it act in response to the following circumstances:
* The City of South Burlington’s Comprehensive Plan identifies the development and preservation of affordable housing within proximity to schools, parks, services, and amenities and the enhancement of the quality of life of existing neighborhoods among the top four priorities under the Plan’s stated Vision & Goals.
* The City of South Burlington City Council has recognized the development and retention of affordable housing as a top municipal priority and has instituted an Affordable Housing Trust Fund and an Affordable Housing Committee in addition to existing land development regulations, such as those governing the Kirby Cottages at 10, 12, and 18 Lily Lane, and new rules proposed by the Affordable Housing Committee in order to preserve the City’s affordable housing stock.
* The December 2016 deployment of the Vermont Air National Guard to the Middle East, ongoing taxiway and apron repaving that will be intermittently halting regular operations over the next two years, and phased departure of all F16 jets ending in March 2019, have resulted in a significant decrease in Vermont Air National Guard operations at the Airport from now into the foreseen future until late 2019 when the first F-35s are scheduled to arrive.
* The BIA 14 CFR Part 150 Update 2015 and 2020 Noise Exposure Map does not take into account future F-35 operations that are scheduled to begin in October 2019.
* The decrease in military operations at the Airport indicates a high probability that the 39 parcels now deemed eligible for the Land Acquisition Program by the FAA and Airport no longer lie in the 73.3 DNL contour.
* In January 2017 the FAA Washington Bureau expressed its willingness to buy the homes (“Kirby Cottages”) on Lily Lane and sell them or transfer them to a third party, potentially the Champlain Housing Trust. A condition of this offer is that the price at which the FAA would sell enables the FAA to recoup its investment. This offer is untenable. Accepting this offer would require that contributors to Champlain Housing Trust and/or South Burlington taxpayers subsidize the unusually generous provisions of the FAA’s purchase of homes under the Part 150 Program. The FAA offer further specified that these homes could remain on site as long as they have an avigation/noise easement attached to them or that they could be moved off site within a negotiated period of time.
NOW THEREFORE, the City of South Burlington does hereby state the following:
- We request that the FAA withdraw its grant approval for the current NCP and Land Acquisition Program given that the acquisition of the 39 parcels is based on obsolete noise levels and will result in irreparable harm to the City through the loss of affordable housing, loss of property tax revenue, and loss of peace of mind for our residents; and,
- We request that the FAA withdraw its approval of the most recently approved NEM and NCP and Land Acquisition Program due to cited deficiencies in the draft 2016 Land and Re-Use Plan, such as (1) the decline in commercial air passengers that contradicts the Airport’s premise that additional land is required for future airport development, (2) the inconsistency between the 73.3 DNL contour governing the current Noise Land Acquisition Program and the 75 DNL contour cited in the draft Land and Re-Use Plan, and (3) the accelerated arrival of the F-35 from fall 2020 to October 2019; and,
- We request that the FAA withdraw its approval of the most recently approved NEM and NCP and Land Acquisition Program due to the extraordinary decrease of military operations at the Airport until late 2019, which constitutes a significant change in the noise conditions and makes it highly probable that noise contours in the 2015 NEM are no longer accurate; and,
- We request that by Tuesday, February 7, 2017, the FAA begin negotiations concerning these requests with South Burlington and other officials of the state and of any public agencies and planning agencies whose area, or any portion of whose area, of jurisdiction within the Ldn 65 dB noise contours is depicted on the NEM, and other Federal officials having local responsibility of land uses depicted on the map; and,
- We request that the FAA recognize the City of South Burlington’s determination that residential and school uses be allowed on all land in South Burlington located within the current NEM and the NEM the City has requested that incorporates F-35 operational data, whether purchased or not purchased through the Land Acquisition Program; and,
- The City of South Burlington is very concerned that the integrity and quality-of-life of the most impacted residential neighborhood, including Kirby Road to the north and Chamberlin Elementary School in its center, be preserved. If it is not possible to suspend the Noise Land Acquisition Program, we request that the FAA grant the City of South Burlington/Airport an exemption so that the housing stock remain on site for residential use; and
- With regard to said exemptions, we request that each deed be transferred at no cost or at a reduced cost to a third party, such as the Champlain Housing Trust, in order that the properties may be maintained as affordable housing for residential use; or to another third party for a mutually agreed upon use in line with the City’s planning goals for preserving and enhancing the character of this existing neighborhood; and,
- Because a particular term of the January 18, 2017, FAA offer regarding its resale of FAA-purchased homes to the City, an appropriate nonprofit, or a private individual would undermine the City’s efforts to increase the number of affordable homes in the Chamberlin neighborhood, we request an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the FAA’s offer so that this provision is removed and substituted in its place is a sales-price provision that advances the City’s goals relating to increasing its stock of affordable housing. (Note: we believe that the FAA does not understand the negative implications of this particular requirement of its offer.); and,
- We, therefore, propose that determination of how the City should act vis-à-vis the affordable housing covenants applicable to the three Kirby Cottages at 10, 12, and 18 Lily Lane, be addressed under a separate Council resolution since this situation relates to only three of the 39 properties included on the Noise Land Acquisitions Parcels list and their circumstances differ from those applicable to the other 36 properties on the list; and,
- We, therefore, request that the FAA not approve the Airport’s plan to acquire noise land for the purpose of constructing an “airport access roadway” where the homes on Kirby Rd. and Lily Lane now sit (3.1 Short-Term Plan); and,
- We request that the FAA consider using NCP funds to construct passive or constructed Noise Buffer, including berms or other landscape improvements, sound walls, including along the Airport’s southern concourse, and an engine run-up enclosure, in order to mitigate ground noise impacting residents within the 70 DNL and greater contour; and,
- We request the financial and other assistance of the FAA and Airport in contracting with a qualified consultant to run the approved FAA noise model substituting F-35 data for the F-16 data that was used for the current map in order to be able to plan for the arrival of the F-35s in late 2019; and,
- We request that the City of South Burlington and Airport enter into a legally binding agreement that states that the Noise Land Acquisition Program will no longer be considered as a mitigation program for BTV unless there are circumstances that warrant one following an environmental impact or sound review that shows the homes and parcels are definitively impacted. We pledge to incorporate measures to achieve outdoor to indoor Noise Level Reduction (NLR) of at least 25 dB and 30 dB into building codes and to consider these measures in individual approvals. (Note: we believe that the FAA’s requirement that the airport operator provide notice and the opportunity for a public hearing on the NCP program was not fulfilled.); and,
- We request that future consideration of noise mitigation programs include the participation of the City of South Burlington prior to the submittal of grant requests, applications for FAA approval, and notification to eligible residents/property owners; and,
- In the event that noise levels become deleterious to residents’ health and quality of life and negatively affect home values, we request that the FAA work with the City of South Burlington and the Airport in order to find a mutually agreeable solution for our residents and the City’s finances; and,
- Since our residents naturally look to the City of South Burlington for answers to their questions and concerns, we request that the implications of future noise mitigation programs on our residents and our city be carefully explained to the City of South Burlington prior to submittal of requests to the FAA for approval and Airport implementation of such programs, whether these implications include home acquisition, buyer/seller agreement terms, avigation easements, real estate disclosures, or some other possible form of encumbrance; and,
- We request, therefore, that a person designated by the South Burlington City Manager receive copies of all communications, including draft documents, related to the Airport’s NEMs, NCP, etc.; and Airport presentations to the South Burlington City Council, including sharing of draft documents relating to Airport NEMs and its NCP prepared for submission to the FAA. These presentations would take place before these draft documents are conveyed to the City of Burlington’s Finance Board and City Council.
DATED this __23rd_ day of ___January__ 2017,
SOUTH BURLINGTON CITY COUNCIL
Helen Riehle, Chair
Meaghan Emery, Vice-Chair
Tim Barritt, Clerk
BACKGROUND AND SUPPORTING INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION
* In 1990, the Airport prepared its first Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) Part 150 Noise Study, and has periodically updated its component Noise Exposure Maps and Noise Compatibility Plans through present day.
* The City of South Burlington City Council issued a letter in February 2011 in response to the Airport’s 2012 Vision 2030 Master Plan and in it stated, “The Council seeks assurance from BIA that the boundaries of its NCP program will not expand. This is necessary to protect the adjacent neighborhood from BIA purchase and removal of more housing units than are currently planned” and further, “the South Burlington City Council hereby states that it disapproves of the BIA Vision 2030 Master Plan Update as currently written due to its lack of a pledge to fund and build noise mitigation devices (such as blast deflectors, sound walls, and engine run-up enclosures) and/or put in place practices whose result is that the noise experienced by the adjacent South Burlington residential neighborhood is no greater than it is today and, concomitantly, the geographic area in the City of South Burlington covered by the NCP is not enlarged.”
* According to the 2012 ECOS Report, “Chittenden County Housing Needs Assessment,” page 24, one finds the following correlation between housing affordability and the County’s and, therefore, State’s economic vitality, according to area employers: “The cost of housing was rated a serious problem by most area employers surveyed during this study. Adverse effects include losing recruits for job openings and higher expenditures when non local candidates take positions here — for sign-on bonuses and reimbursement for relocation expenses.” Further, on page 56, “VHFA (Vermont Housing Finance Agency) collected surveys from 47 Chittenden County employers asking their opinions about housing availability, cost, and location — and about the impact of those factors on their businesses. The cost of housing was regarded as a serious problem by 74% of employers for rental housing and 62% of employers for owner housing. In fact, 83% of employers said that the cost and availability of housing was an obstacle to economic development.” In addition to this survey, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC) and a team of economic development consultants conducted a separate employer survey for their analysis work which produced similar results.
* The scarcity of affordable housing is the source of major hardship for the one in three South Burlington households, which spend more than thirty percent of household income on housing. Of these one in three households, thirty-six percent pay more than fifty percent of household income on housing. The housing affordability standard is paying thirty percent less of household income on housing (these data are from the 2013 South Burlington Affordable Housing Task Force Report). The loss of an additional 37 or 39 housing units in the most affordable neighborhood in the City will add to the number of households whose budgets are stressed by the scarcity of affordable housing in the City. This assertion is supported by the 2012 ECOS Report, which cites, on page 37, that low vacancy rates – along with rising fuel costs and a tightening of mortgage credit – are likely to contribute to increased homes sales prices (“The median price of homes used as primary residences has risen 70% in Chittenden County since 2000,” and “Despite the prevalence of large owner homes, large units that are rental and/or affordable can be challenging to find,” p. 38, 47).
* The FAA released updated Noise Exposure Maps in late 2015 reflective of the then current operations at the Airport and, using an updated model, identified 961 homes within the 65+ contours.
* The Airport’s consultants unveiled the new NEM on November 9, 2015 during a “Public Workshop,” followed by a public workshop at the Airport; however, according to our understanding of public hearings within our governance rules, these open public meetings do not meet the FAA requirement of a public hearing in impacted communities (and no known meetings were held in Colchester, Williston, or Winooski, although these communities are also impacted). Nor was opportunity to request a public hearing offered on the noise insulation program, a pre-requisite to the noise insulation grant request, nor one offered on the new round of home acquisitions, required by the FAA before the Airport can begin a noise insulation program. As a result, the ramifications of the noise insulation program were not clearly communicated to the communities in question nor did the impacted communities have an opportunity to respond to the Airport’s grant request for more FAA-funded home acquisitions.
* The Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee has identified Chamberlin Elementary School as integral to the Chamberlin Neighborhood’s identity and vitality.
* Enplanements in each of the years 2010 through 2015 have been declining to a figure of 594,034, the City of South Burlington is somewhat skeptical of projections of an increase to 670,947 in just 4 years and to 781,216 by 2030.
* Based on the 2015 Noise Exposure Map, the Airport has identified on its website 39 parcels in the City of South Burlington within a 73.3+ DNL contour that the FAA and the Airport have determined are eligible for the noise mitigation home buyout program through the FAA’s Noise Compatibility Program (“NCP”).
* The Airport and City of South Burlington signed a 10-year Tax Stabilization Agreement in July 2016, the terms of which determine that the purchase of the 39 parcels eligible for acquisition would represent a $66,253.54 annual loss in property tax, which represents a 73.5% loss of revenue for the City. The remaining $96,870 represents a loss to the State Education Fund. Overall, this would be an extraordinary loss for the City and would compound our tax revenue loss due to recent prior home acquisitions since 2006, which number more than double the amount of eligible parcels under the current Part 150 Program.
* In view of regional and state studies, there is a probability that these 37 or 39 housing units, which include both affordable and workforce housing, are highly sought after by families with school-age children. Of these units, owner-occupied homes currently figure among the existing housing stock in the County deemed most desirable to families according to the 2012 ECOS Report, “Chittenden County Housing Needs Assessment”: “On average, more ‘family’ households own their home than ‘non-family’ households” (16). Should these housing units be purchased and demolished, families are likely to have to move out of South Burlington due to the scarcity of affordable housing in the City and new families unable to move in. We further keep in mind that state aid for education is based on the number of children attending the City’s public schools. Thus, the loss of these 37 or 39 housing units would potentially cause loss of revenue to the School District. Additionally, the Chamberlin neighborhood is home to Chamberlin Elementary School whose enrollment numbers have fallen ten percent, from 253 to 229, since 2010. The School’s Principal notes that the lack of affordable housing and the state of the current economy might also explain the increased number of Chamberlin students living in multiple-generation households. On page 24 the ECOS Report cites a study done by the Vermont Child Poverty Council, pertinent to this expressed concern: “A recent study of the Vermont Child Poverty Council examined a variety of data related to the greatest problems facing the state’s children. The Council noted that ‘without stable and safe housing, children may change schools frequently or may not be ready to learn in school.’ This means that children who lack affordable housing have a reduced likelihood of becoming successful adults.”
* The 73.3 DNL contour used as the threshold for determining the current properties eligible for home acquisition appears nowhere in the Airport’s draft 2016 Land and Re-Use Plan, which, under 3.1 Short-Term Plan, cites 75 DNL as the contour within which properties “should be reserved for future airport development.”
* The City of South Burlington was not notified of the current FAA Noise Land Acquisition Program grant request for acquiring 39 additional parcels until the FAA had already approved it and before the program was before the Airport’s municipal owner and government body for approval.
* Upon review of the 2016 Airport Land and Re-Use Plan, the South Burlington Planning Commission prepared a draft letter reiterating the Council’s position in 2011 that, “Land within the 75 dB DNL can also be suitable for Noise Buffer. The City of South Burlington requests that this option, for passive or constructed Noise Buffer, be added to this area. Constructed noise buffer may include berming or other landscape improvements to further reduce noise impacts of the Airport on the adjacent neighborhood.” The Planning Commission’s draft letter further stated, “the City of South Burlington does not support a limited access connector to I-89” and especially one that “could have a significant impact on Kirby Road being used as a cut-through for non-airport related traffic coming from or headed to Route 15 in Colchester.”