As dozens of protestors gathered outside on Church Street, the Burlington City Council late Monday approved a 25-year lease extension between the Vermont Air National Guard and Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport.
The protestors had hoped to convince council the Guard’s F-35 fighter jets generated dangerous noise levels for nearby neighborhood’s and contributed to the climate crisis.
The new agreement extends the Guard’s rights to operate from the airport to 2073. And it frees up $51 million in military construction funding that will allow the Guard to make investments that include $7.7 million in renewable energy and clean heating projects and $32 million for new Net Zero buildings.
Earlier this month, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger called the Guard a “committed, indispensable partner to the airport” since its arrival in 1946 and vital to the security of the state.
But noise complaints from residents in South Burlington and Winooski have followed the Guard’s flight training for years, but especially with the arrival of 20 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets in 2019.
Weinberger, however, said the extension agreement includes measures that require the Guard to incorporate more f-35 simulator training for pilots and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noise.