Boise Airport held an October 6th public meeting for the purpose of informing the public of the results of a new Joint Land Use airport noise study. A PowerPoint presentation was made by the airport manager. Monty Mericle opposes the F-35 or F-15 and his report is posted below.
Of particular concern to the GUARDIAN is the apparent lack of communication with the USAF and Dept. of Defense voicing the strong opposition of Boise homeowners who want the noisy fighters to be based in Mountain Home.
By Monty Mericle
Based on the meeting, I made the following observations and reached the following conclusions:
• The meeting was attended by approximately 100 residents.
• Over 95% of those attending opposed the only two options being pursued by the airport, those being to bring in 24 F-15s or 24 F-35 fighter jets. The city has made no effort to pursue other, less disruptive missions such as cargo planes, helicopters, drones, or support aircraft. Elected officials are fixated with bringing in high performance combat aircraft regardless of the impact to surrounding neighborhoods.
• The attendees were highly critical of the city’s efforts to inform the public of the public meetings. Even though an estimated $20,000 was included in the study funding for public notifications, only one small notice was placed in a local newspaper. No efforts were made to notify any of those residents directly affected by the study, nor were impacted Homeowners Associations representing those areas. This despite the city having detailed information on both affected residents and their respective HOAs. When asked why no direct mailings were made, the response was that the city felt direct mailings were an ineffective way to communicate with their citizens. The main way residents found out about any of the meetings was by word of mouth, through social networks, or as the result of the personal efforts of State Representative John Gannon who hand distributed leaflets throughout the affected neighborhoods.
• The main focus of the meeting was to review the study generated maps of the expanded noise impact areas created by the F-15 and F-35 proposals. It was immediately obvious that the results from the city noise maps areas are vastly different than the conclusions reached by the 2012 Air Force Environmental Impact study options for basing the F-35 at Gowen Field. The $500,000 dollar Air Force study clearly shows that basing 24 F-35s in Boise would reclassify 3,104 residents into a “Not Suitable for Residential Use” (NSFRU) zone. The Boise City Study calculates that those exact same 24 planes will reclassify only 234 residents as NSFRU. This is a difference of 75%, missing 2,870 residents. When asked about the difference, the response was that the F-35 technology had changed since the Air Force study in 2012. That is just simply not true. The 2015 F-35 has exactly the same noise loudness rating as the 2012 F-35. When questioned further, the city response was “ I guess we will just have to agree to disagree then.” The result is a planning document that is false and misleading.
• When discussing the 24 plane F-15 option, the city stated repeatedly that the new F-15 mission would be nothing like the temporary F-15 mission we all experienced last month when the Mountain Home F-15s were flying their 400 missions out of Gown Field. Yet the numbers in the city study clearly show that 24 F-15s will be flying approximately 341 missions a month, 85% of what we all experienced in September. And this will not be temporary for a month; it will go on for decades.
• When asked if the Mountain Home F-15s were measured as to the noise level while at Gowen Field, the response was “no”. The city stated that there is no requirement to measure any “actual” sound levels since the numbers are all calculated. How convenient that noise level calculations based on numbers, numbers that are selected by those funding the study, are never compared to what actually exists.
• Kevin Cahill a PHD economist and expert on project economic impact analysis, was highly critical of the complete lack of any economic analysis on the result of expanding the NSFRU noise impact zone. This completely ignores the effect on thousands of residents who live around the airport. The response from the city was “that this is not part of the study.”
• When asked about how the city is using Avigation Easements to mute the ability of residents to oppose future noise driven rezoning programs, the city acknowledged such a program, but did not know enough about the program to comment further. These easements take away all rights of any resident signing them to the use and control of the airspace over their homes. The city requires them for new developments around the airport, and they frequently slip them in to existing homeowner paperwork as part of projects requiring city approval. Their constitutionality has been the subject of numerous lawsuits since their use began in the 1970s.
• Based on the obvious errors and omissions presented at the meeting, and the false and misleading study results it produces, one of the HOA presidents asked if the study would be re-evaluated, corrected, or started over. The city was adamant that the study would proceed and there was nothing the residents of the city could do to stop it.
• I contacted one of the city council members to discuss this, and was told that the mayor and city council have no intention of holding any public meetings on this project.
It is clear to me and most of those attending the meeting that the city noise study is not a tool which is to be used for planning purposes. The planning and decision making have already been done, behind closed doors. This “study” is a manipulated project to justify what has already been decided by our elected officials. It will be used to incorrectly justify the new F-15 or F-35 mission without acknowledging or fairly valuing the price in lost property values and quality of life for residents surrounding the Boise Airport and Gowen Field. Remember the F-15s in September. Do you want this for south Boise and Ada County for decades to come? And the F-35s will be twice as loud!
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