The Burlington City Council voted to request that the U.S. Air Force cancel the basing of F-35 fighter jets at the airport and send a quieter plane instead. The resolution passed nine to three.
Monday night’s vote came on the heels of a Town Meeting Day ballot item that asked the city council to request the F-35s not be based in Burlington. The non-binding ballot item passed with 55 percent of the vote.
The resolution, introduce by Councilor Joan Shannon, requested the U.S. Air Force base an aircraft quieter than the F-35 in Burlington.
“I drafted this because of the will of the voters,” Shannon said.
The resolution also asked Secretary of the U.S Air Force Heather Wilson to answer a number of questions about the F-35 basing by May 1.
The questions include clarifying if the F-35 is actually four times louder than the F-16s currently based in Burlington and if there is an alternative mission for the Vermont Air National Guard.
Previously, the Vermont Air Guard has said that there is no alternative mission and that the F-35s would arrive in Burlington by next fall.
The resolution now goes to Mayor Miro Weinberger for approval. When asked if he would sign off on the resolution, he said he was going to “sleep on it” before making a decision.
During about 90 minutes of public comments, supporters for and against the proposed resolution made their case.
Supporters of canceling the basing of the F-35s thanked the councilors for bringing a resolution to the table that honored the intent of the ballot question, though some asked the council to use the exact language that appeared in the question and remove the section of questions.
“I regard the F-35s as an instrument of war,” said Sandy Baird. “I am thoroughly against the wars that the United States is now participating in and I wish that Burlington would send a resolution by canceling the F-35s that they don’t want the war machine in our communities.”
Not everyone at the meeting was supportive of the proposed resolution and many who spoke out against the resolution said the Town Meeting Day question was misleading.
Tony Bell called the ballot question “an absolute joke.”
“This council should reject any proposal that would keep the Vermont Air Guard from its mission, a mission that now requires the basing of the F-35. The sound of their engines should be welcomed,” Bell said.
This is not the first time that the City Council has considered measures to halt the F-35 basing. In 2013, the City Council rejected two resolution designed to stop the F-35s from coming to Burlington.