Winooski is one of two communities that would suffer the most impact from the F-35 basing, and its city council has taken no position on the F-35, but has asked the Air Force for more information before the Pentagon makes a decision. That request has not yet been fulfilled.
South Burlington is the other community that would bear the brunt of an F-35 basing impact. The South Burlington city council has voted twice to reject the F-35, the second time unanimously. The city council chair, Rosanne Greco, is a retired Air Force colonel who worked for years as a Pentagon planner. She has taken an active role not only in speaking out against the F-35 as harmful to South Burlington, but also pointing out errors in the Air Force impact statement that made the impact of the F-35 seem less severe than the data demonstrated.
If The F-35 Doesn't Harm Anyone, There's No Cost
Rep. Cross's bill is as direct as it is uncomplicated in addressing any possible future distress that Winooski or South Burlington residents may suffer as a result of the F-35's impact. First, the bill would establish a seven member F35A Adverse Impacts Compensation Board,
"" for the purpose of awarding compensation to property owners, landowners, and other persons harmed or damaged by the noise and other adverse impacts generated by the basing of the F-35A or any other military aircraft by the Vermont Air National Guard at the Burlington International Airport."
The seven members would include representatives from each of the four closest towns, as well as an airport representative, a medical professional, and a financial professional. This board would have the authority to compensate people for damage inflicted by the F-35, including loss of property value, costs of relocating to a safer place, or costs of treatment for physical or psychological harm "caused or aggravated" by the F-35 "or any other Vermont Air National Guard military aircraft" based at the airport.
Rep. Cross's bill would also establish the "F-35A Adverse Impacts Compensation Fund" for the compensation board to administer in carrying out it's purpose. The bill proposes to support the compensation fund with 20 per cent of the state appropriation to the national guard and a 5 per cent surcharge on the cost of each ticket to or from Burlington airport. The bill also allows for private gifts and other state funding.
Although supporters of the F-35 basing in Vermont have been saying for months that the F-35 would do no harm to person or property, they promptly objected to the compensation bill. Speaker of the House Shap Smith, an attorney and a Democrat, was immediately non-committal about what committee might look at the bill. The speaker's website contains no reference to "F-35," "joint strike fighter," or "Burlington airport." Smith did not reply to inquiry on the subject.