Noise Compatibility Program Update Underway: New Technical Advisory Committee Tasked with a Focus on the Future

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Thursday October 26, 2017

The airport and a committee of stakeholders are in the process of updating the Noise Compatibility Program in hopes of shifting from the voluntary land acquisition program and transitioning to other mitigation options.

The stakeholders are part of a newly-formed Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which met October 17 at the airport. Following introductions, purpose of the TAC, and a recap of the Noise Compatibility Open House in June, they received an update to the first chapter of the NCP from the airport’s consultants: Jones Payne Group and Harris Miller Miller and Hanson (HMMH).

A brief Introduction to the Part 150 Study: Noise Compatibility Program and Noise Exposure Maps
The Noise Compatibility Program (NCP) is part of a larger federal regulation known as the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 150 Program, a voluntary program that assesses and minimizes noise from the airport. Participation is voluntary, but it is the primary means by which airports can obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) support, including funding for noise-related projects.

The airport has participated in the Part 150 Program for 30 years and has received about $57 million in noise mitigation since the start of the program, FAA’s Richard Doucette confirmed earlier this year. Doucette is an Environmental Program Manager in the Planning and Program Branch under the New England Regional Airports Division.

The current NCP is approved for land acquisition and relocation, which has resulted in the loss of nearly 200 homes in South Burlington—a hit to the city’s affordable housing stock. The plan was last updated in 2008.

Another major component of the Part 150 Program includes Noise Exposure Maps (NEM), computer-modulated maps that display average levels of sound illustrated by contours. Properties that fall within a 65-decibel day-night average sound level (dB DNL) contour of the airport’s operations are considered eligible for the program. Over 900 more homes have been identified as eligible in the Noise Exposure Maps.

The updated NCP will be based on the 2020 Forecast Conditions Noise Exposure Maps; the FAA approved updates for 2015 and 2020 in December 2015.

The original NEM update was scheduled for 2020, but with the arrival of the F-35 fighter jets in 2019, there have been persistent requests for an earlier update. The airport submitted a grant this summer for project funding before the fiscal year’s end, which concluded on September 30. Director of Aviation Gene Richards confirmed that the grant was denied. The airport can reapply for May 2018.

Technical Advisory Committee

The Airport’s Sound Mitigation Committee has been in place for a year, but for the sole purpose of the Part 150 Study, a focused Technical Advisory Committee was formed to review the study inputs, assumptions, analyses, documentation, input, and guidance exclusive to the NCP development.

The Technical Advisory Committee represents a wide range of voices from airport operations, the FAA, local jurisdictions, educational institutions, and business interests.
Specifically, at the table: Burlington International Airport, VTANG, Army Guard Burlington, Airport Commission, the FAA (New England Regional Office and the Air Traffic Manager,) Heritage Aviation, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, City of South Burlington, City of Winooski, Essex Junction, Town of Essex, Town of Williston, South Burlington School District, Community College of Vermont, Saint Michael’s College, Winooski School District, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, and the South Burlington Business Association. The City of Burlington and towns of Colchester Hinesburg, Richmond, and Shelburne were also invited to participate.

Recap of the June NCP Open House and Proposed Land Use Measures

The airport hosted a Noise Compatibility Program open house in June where approximately 100 community members learned about the Part 150 history, NCP goals and options, and potential land use measures. This was the formal kickoff to the NCP update.

The potential land use measures expand well beyond the existing land acquisition and relocation program, including:
• Sound Insulation
• Sales Assistance
• Purchase Assurance
• Easement acquisition for new development
• Real Estate Disclosure
• Sound berms and barriers

See sidebar for definitions.

There were community members both for and against continuing land acquisition. Many were in favor of sound insulation, and those interested in land acquisition were intrigued by sales assistance and purchase assurance as a second option, according to Sarah Degutis, project manager at Jones Payne Group.

Several options require an avigation easement, a legal document between the owner and the airport sponsor that is conveyed in exchange for something of value. For the airport, the easements would mean the right of overflight in the airspace above, and in the vicinity of a particular property, including the right to create noise and other effects resulting in lawful operation of aircraft.

This is an upcoming TAC topic, where members will receive examples used throughout New England to help infer recommended language for Burlington.

This is one of many components residents will need to be aware of before making an informed decision, stressed George Maille at the Oct. 17 meeting. Maille was a member of the former Chamberlin Neighborhood Airport Planning Committee (CNAPC) and chaired the Sound Subcommittee under CNAPC.

“I have these programs before me. I not only have to know what they are, but I also must know what my financial buy-in and impacts are on each one of those programs if I decide to take other action other than staying. Those (answers) need to come quickly,” he said.

Diane Carter, principal at Jones Payne Group, assured that there will be an implementation process for noise mitigation for those eligible.

The Public Process and Timeline

The committee reviewed the first chapter as an introduction and purpose, but other draft chapters will include the NEMs and land use information, the existing NCP and approved measures, a presentation of the new recommended measures for the NCP, analysis of said measures, public consultation and appendices with public workshop materials, public comments, and FAA Record of Approval on NCP submissions.

There are five additional meetings tentatively scheduled; the next one is Tuesday, Dec. 5. In that time, it will take more than this advisory committee to fully sculpt the updated NCP. A draft NCP document will be prepared for the FAA, and there will be a public process to collect feedback for the final submittal in the coming months. The timeline strives to submit by late winter/early spring, which will start the clock on the FAA’s 180-day review period. In addition to the public at-large, there will need to be conversations amongst governing bodies as work progresses.

“Many of the people in this room represent bodies, so they don’t necessarily have unilateral authority to speak for that body without the body having some discussion and coming to some direction of how we should represent the bodies,” Charlie Baker, executive director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission said.

Winooski City Manager Jessie Baker encouraged members to deliberate with cities/organizations and share responses from their policy makers at the fifth meeting. She also noted that the fourth meeting, scheduled for March, is when elected boards change. Adjustments may need to be made to accommodate important decision-making.

“We’re going to have new city councilors and select board members coming on, and pretty much at their first meeting, we’re asking them to get very up-to-speed, even if we do a lot of work between now and then to educate our city members,” she said.

From South Burlington, City Manager Kevin Dorn asked for a response from the airport and City of Burlington regarding a proposed joint regional airport governance resolution passed 4-1 by its city council in August. The resolution aims to give South Burlington and other neighboring communities more of a say in the airport decisions.

“I think our community’s elected representatives should have a final say in what goes to the FAA following the process and through the sponsoring organization, which is the airport and the City of Burlington,” Dorn said. “They should have a final say in what investments are made in our community.”

Nic Longo, director of planning and development for the airport, confirmed that they received the letter and will submit a response.

“This meeting and meetings in the future are opportunities for you to express your ideas and concerns, and anything that has merit or we’re able to do it, we’ll certainly entertain it,” Richards said.

This program is for the people,” he added. “Make sure you’re talking to everybody, not just the people you want to hear from. It’s not your political agenda. It is what benefits your community.”

View the latest NCP update information, scheduling, and documents at www.btvsound.com.

 

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent