City Government

Opponents Of F-35 Denied Space Inside Open House

Brig. General Mike Nolan talks with Alison and Gregg Serbhbeen about F-35.

With armed police standing by, opponents of the F-35 and other noisy fighter jets being based at Gowen Field were denied space during an “open house” meeting Wednesday night at the airport, another chapter in the controversy.

Airport spokesman Sean Briggs told the GUARDIAN the opponents were allowed to display protest signs and a petition outside the room full of Air National Guard brass and pilots, but they were not allowed in the room , “So folks wouldn’t be confused.”

LTC J.R. Williams and Monty Mericle sound off over jet engine noise levels.

To us it looked like another case of the new Trump term, “Alternate Facts.” The city of Boise, the Chamber of Commerce and the ANG were armed to the teeth with charts, surveys, arguments, and opinions about why only fighters should be based in Boise and any noise was worth millions of dollars to the economy.

ANG brass and Idaho politicos have been allotted more than $100,000 in public funds to shape public opinion in favor of basing the F-35 at Gowen. Despite those efforts, they have failed to convince a growing assortment of Boise Bench residents.

“Alternate facts,” forced to display outside the open house meeting.

We have talked to both sides and the arguments breakdown like this: Opponents are concerned about noise issues. They mostly like the ANG and the military in general, but they prefer to base the F-35 at Mt. Home which is a more suitable location for a fighter jet. Another type of aircraft producing less noise is their choice. They say an alternate flying mission wouldn’t have an adverse economic impact on Boise.

The ANG claims recruitment would fall off if their 1000-plus staffed unit was forced to go to Mt. Home to train. There are only 40 pilots in the unit. The brass pretty much relied on an “all or nothing” approach, citing the economic benefit to the community. Questions about using the public relations cash to attract another flying mission were ignored or deflected.

MONTY MERICLE has done extensive research on the issue and we cannot see any holes in his facts. He offers an extended view below:

Homeowners worst fears were confirmed at the Boise Airport Noise Study open house last week. The spins, distortions and misrepresentations of facts about large increases in airport noise levels due to the stationing of fighter jets at the airport was evident in the meeting room as Boise Airport officials and employees told listeners various versions of the facts based on what each listener wanted to hear.

For example:
A-10, F-15, F-35 loudness – Airport officials claimed ignorance and/or confusion about the noise levels of the new jets, even though their own Noise study was based on jet loudness tables that clearly show increases in noise levels of between 8 and 16 times that of the current military jets operating out of the Boise Airport. Yet when this information was presented by informed homeowners outside the open house (homeowners were barred from presenting information inside the open house itself), official comments were that even though they did not know what the noise level comparisons were, they were certainly not what those homeowners outside were claiming.

Afterburner use – Airport staff has stated repeatedly that F-35s will not use afterburners at the Boise Airport. However, Air National Guard pilots at the open house, while not willing to go on record, acknowledged that F-35s will use afterburners at least on hot days during the summers. Afterburner use doubles jet loudness levels.

“Not Suitable for Residential Use” houses – While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has declared sensitive uses such as homes, schools, hospitals, churches, day care centers, etc. within a certain noise zones are to be classified as “Not Suitable for Residential Use”, Airport officials insist that those houses will still be “ habitable.” Unsuitable but still inhabitable?? What sort of double speak is that?

Buying houses – The $440,000 Boise Airport Noise Study recently approved by the FAA includes the following statement pertaining to a plan to purchase and demolish the first phase of homes to be reclassified as “Not Suitable For Residential Use – ” all 105 homes would be offered participation in the voluntary acquisition program.” Yet Airport officials at the open house and in previous interviews with the Idaho Statesman were telling listeners that they will not be buying houses.

Does that mean they will offer to buy them without having any real intention of buying them? When pressed on this issue, one airport official simply started –“ I am not going to discuss this with you further” and walked away.

Completing the 3rd runway – The Mayor and most of the Airport officials are going on record as supporting the completion of an existing 3rd runway a mile south of the current runway complex because the Air Force has determined that this plan would reduce the reclassification of existing homes as “Not Suitable For Residential Use” by over 85%. But when questioned at the open house by residents living south of the airport, the airport official’s response was, “ we have no plans to build the 3rd runway.”

This double speak, distortion, contradiction, and misrepresentation is typical of the game plan the city and airport is following in their blind rush to bring in extremely loud military jet planes. It is a shameful way to treat existing homeowners, and the citizens of Boise need to know about it and demand that the city and airport deal with residents in good faith.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I understand why Boise wants the jets at Gowen.
    I don’t understand why the ANG/Air Force doesn’t want them by default at Mtn. Home… (with Gowen as a secondary back-up site).
    Recruitment is not an practical reason. Is there any other explanation?

  2. Gene Rapp Sr.
    Jan 26, 2017, 8:58 am

    I moved here and into the Randolph Roberson neighborhood in 1980. At that time it was brought to my attention that I would be living very close to the airport which also housed the Idaho Air Guard. If I remember correctly they were flying F4 Phantom jets, which were LOUD! But I knew that when I closed on my home. Nothing has changed. I am amazed that people move into this neighborhood knowing the military fly jets from both Gowen Field and Mountain Home and then whine about the noise. If you do not like the noise, the aircraft and what they stand for MOVE!

  3. With all due respect, Mr. Guardian, these “open house” meetings aren’t worth the taxpayer dollars they cost to stage! But there’s an obvious way to end the debate, that has been presented here on the BOISE GUARDIAN… a real-life demonstration!

    The proponents of the F-35 plan should get busy now, arranging to bring a half-dozen of the planes to Boise this summer. Bring ’em in for two weeks, and let them engage in the types of drills they would be doing, if they were permanently stationed here. Let us see and hear for ourselves.

    (I’m probably near the edge of the area that would be most severely impacted. I’ve never been bothered by the occasional F-15 touch-and-gos, refueling stops, etc. And I love my country and the military! But when I see them suggesting that they might be able to insulate closer-by houses so the commonfolk could take refuge inside during fly-time? That is WRONG!)

    I’m not sure which side of the argument I’m on. Mayor Bieter and Governor Otter and the Chamber would do THIS voting, taxpaying citizen a huge favor by letting me see and hear for myself.

  4. The slant on this story makes it seem like the folks advocating against the ANG were denied a right. The forum was designed as an informational setting for interested parties to come and learn something. It was not a forum for debate. Moreover, the anti folks had the first opportunity to attract the public, in the lobby right in front of the path folks walked toward the forum. The police presence was not intimidating in any sense, unless there was a warrant out for your arrest. Beyond the dubious reporting from the editor, the event was pleasant and informative. It may have addressed some of the concerns of the neighbors and it may not have. The airport staff has zero influence on the decision, yet the staff held an event to allow the ANG to present its information.

    EDITOR NOTE–We stand by the slant and acknowledge it is indeed a slant. Previous meeting didn’t have any coppers. Airport staff acknowledged to us they didn’t want to allow the opponents in the same room with their material. No one expected any sort of debate, but the “open house” was only open to those who wished to display favorable materials. For a well balanced set of “alternative facts,” check out the KTBV story. Well done.

  5. Boise Airport claims they have some kind of right to impact more homes with noise, based on the BOI being there since 1938.
    That does not give them any right to expand the noise footprint.
    Since about 1970s FAA has been working to regulate and reduce the airport noise.
    Apparently Boise Airport knows they do not have that right, despite claiming so.
    They started a new thing called “Airport Influence Area”, some years ago. Via that process they require the existing houses to sign a new avigation easement when homeowner wants to remodel. How can City of Boise require something of homeowners outside of city sign something – it seems illegal to me.
    If Boise Airport had a right to expand physical or noise contours, they would not be coersing homeowners to sign their rights away.
    And by the way, it is not only a air rights that are being signed away. The Avigational Easement on Boise Airport website is titled “Air and Surface easement”.

  6. My big question is when was the meeting and why is the entire city not aware or notified?

    My guess is that the City does not want us to know about these meetings so we cannot show up.

    We watch for this kind of stuff and saw nothing about it!

    Poor form Mr Mayor!

  7. Concerned Neighbor
    Jan 26, 2017, 2:33 pm

    I was at the “meeting” last night and have several things to point out:
    1. Very, very few people involved are anti-military.
    2. Most people are fine with the noise level they moved in here with – passenger planes and A10s.
    3. Many people are having problems with F15/F16s already, including far outside the mapped “noise zones”. The F35 is twice as loud, twice the problem.
    4. There have been NO avenues for 2 way discussion with Beiter’s city administration. Every type of input has been blocked.
    5. The “meeting” was no meeting. It was a dozen or so posters of highly technical yet irrelevant data designed to sideline the real questions.

    Massive noise pollution from the F35 do not belong in a growing city. No iffs, ands, or buts. The city administration has fought against its citizens tooth and nail on this, including lying and saying that they have no control. Well guess what? The only real reason the F35 isn’t currently headed to Mountain Home is because the city administration wants it and is sacrificing us for it.

  8. If the opposition group arrived at the start of the event and requested space inside the venue, I think the airport was right to say no.

    If the group requested in advance, space in the venue, and were denied that request while those with a supportive position were given space, then the City is out of line.

  9. You who want to protest the f35 can get a venue and protest all you want. It has nothing to do with the new president. If we have to read this Ridiculousness there’s no sense in even reading your post. Does your whining and complaining about the new administration ever stop? I didn’t think so.

  10. Inappropriate to make a Comment that refers to President Trump. Have your say and leave him out of it.

  11. Corporate Collective
    Jan 28, 2017, 12:06 pm

    We are Fascists
    You will be assimilated
    Resistance is futile.

  12. Keep in mind there are also at least 3 Boise elementary schools in close proximity to the airport. They are Hillcrest, Grace Jordan, and Whitney. West Jr High is also in close proximity. I believe there mayh also be one charter school.

    Judging from some of the previous comments it would appear that it is going to be just to damn bad if the kids or anyone else are outside when the F-35’s are active.

    As noted in May 3 Statesman letter to the editor, “The F-35 decibels of 105-112 cause pain and hearing loss.

    But who gives a damn right, screw the kids and property values as long as Boise gets the F-35’s.

  13. Tom Lorentz
    Jul 10, 2017, 5:18 pm

    I submitted the following letter regarding the to the editor regarding the F-35 to the ID Statesmen weeks ago but it appears they are not going to use. Statesman big F-35 supporters so I suppose they did not like the content. Re-submitted 2day but doubt they will print this time. Here goes:

    “Opponents Of F-35 Denied Space Inside Open House” is the title to an online article published this past January. According to the article, opponents were denied entry to the open house so people would not become confused. Some open house. A USAF 2012 Environmental Statement shows that at least 10,000 homes will be classified as “NOT SUITABLE FOR RESIDENTIAL USE” with an estimated loss of home values in the $50-70 million range (based on 2012 prices). Please note that this $50-70 million is coming out of homeowners equity. This is a shameful way to treat existing homeowners, and the citizens of Boise need to know about it and demand that the city and airport deal with residents in good faith.

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