Brilliantly, no real estate developer had to put any of their own money in: Taxpayers, like you and me, paid the full price to purchase and demolish the 200 homes that were standing on 44 acres of commercially valuable land facing the airport entrance. The pretext was all too real F-16 noise. But the real reason those homes were selected for purchase and demolition was so land speculators could earn profits by commercially developing that now empty land. The genius of the scheme is that they did not have to risk a dime of their own money to purchase or demolish the homes.
F-16s were scheduled to retire. Without extreme military jet noise continuing after retirement of the F-16s there was no reason to demolish the 200 homes in the first place. There would be no reason for South Burlington to change the zoning of the 44 acres from residential to commercial. The scheme to turn F-16 noise into money would collapse unless an extremely noisy military jet would replace the F-16.
The scheme was facilitated by political pressure on the Air Force to do something it did not want to do: bring dangerous F-35A fighters to a densely populated city. All so developers could maintain the high noise needed to turn the 44 acres into money for developers.
Oops. The taxpayer funded profit scheme got a bit tangled by 3000 problems: 3000 families, whose affordable homes will not be purchased and demolished, will remain stuck for life in the F-35 noise danger zone that the Burlington Board of Health says causes learning problems for children and heart problems for adults. Too bad for them that these 3000 families will go forward with decades of suffering while the developers enjoy this dangerous plan.
Fortunately, Burlington can put a stop to the whole unpleasant scheme at Town Meeting. Vote “yes” on Ballot Item 6 to cancel the F-35. Do not allow 3000 families to be sacrificed to further enrich the already safe and secure.
Voting for Ballot Item 6 is a way to implement a fundamental right included article 7 of Vermont’s constitution: Article 7: “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community.” In this case, health and safety for 3000 families and loss of decent affordable housing v. taxpayer funded profit for a handful of developers.