In the Zone: BTV Noise Map Contours Determine Who Can Get Soundproofing Funds

Seven Days VT, October 2, 2019 – Molly Walsh

Since the 2013 announcement that F-35 fighter jets would be based at Burlington International Airport, the planes’ noise impact has been heavily debated. Through it all, Ed and Gail Garvey decided to stay in their pale green ranch-style home a few hundred feet from the runway as bulldozers demolished the houses all around them.

The retirees at 44 Dumont Avenue resisted offers to sell their home to the airport because they didn’t want to leave where they had lived happily for decades. But when they heard about a new kind of soundproofing assistance, courtesy of a Federal Aviation Administration grant, they expected that their location would qualify.

Ed Garvey said he got bad news when he called the airport in late September, the same week the first two F-35s arrived.

The airport’s growth, and accompanying din, prompted buyouts under a noise mitigation program. Over the next two decades, FAA grants enabled the airport to acquire and tear down more than 150 homes in South Burlington. “A lot of good neighbors got scared away,” Ed said. “Some of them were afraid that they were going to be required to sell. They decided: We’re going to take whatever they can give us and get away.”

The Garveys declined multiple offers for their home. “We liked it here, and it was OK with the other planes,” said Gail, a retired secretary. But that was before four F-35s made an unscheduled stop in Burlington at the end of May.

Four months later, the couple inquired about soundproofing and got the final word that the government won’t pay for it.