Bought in Incompatible Noise Zone
Good Houses may add to needed affordable supply
City must write Ironclad Avigation Easement
The City of Burlington, VT, which once had a mayor named Bernie Sanders, has proposed an interesting, yet challenging proposal—having spent $2 million of AIP funds for a cluster of condos that they intended to demolish near Burlington International Airport for noise abatement purposes (under standards the houses were then deemed uninhabitable).
Now, the sponsor has a new idea– to allow the 7 Lily Lane condos to remain standing. Currently BTV employees are living there “security caretakers,” preventing the looting and vandalism.
Gene Richards, BTV’s director of aviation, said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger encouraged him to “exhaust every opportunity there is to have the homes stay where they are.” Burlington has an affordable housing shortage, much like many cities and the 7 Lily buildings are good stock.
Preliminary versions of the report that show the noise contour lines have shifted enough to allow the homes to remain standing. The Mayor said that
“There are details still to be determined here about whether this plan is going to work and whether these homes can be saved, but I am increasingly hopeful that it might be possible.”
The arrival of the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35 fighter jets next year is a major part of the equation. Weinberger said the noise will actually be less intense for some homes alongside the runways and louder for houses at the ends of the runways. The Lily Lane homes are alongside the runways, though not far from the end.
Once the new maps are issued, Richards said, the airport intends to pursue sound-mitigation measures for some homes.
The acquisition of the houses with AIP grants is intended to remove houses from areas of incompatible use. The FAA likely would object to the sale of lease of these units without 1000% tight avigation easements which would permanently prohibit the occupants from seeking inverse condemnation damages. It might be best for the City to retain title to the properties and include an ironclad easement or lease clause addressing the exclusion of any noise action. The documents should include explicit boldface language signed by the transferee acknowledging not only the existing noise levels, but also admitting that the noise may increase while accepting the consequences of that added nuisance.
The burden is on the City to prepare these terms. It is NOT incumbent on the FAA to suggest language adequate to protect against these house from limiting the future inverse condemnation litigation.
Interesting idea, but the burden on Burlington to design the necessary prophylactic terms.
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