The open house comes as people who live close to the airport are concerned about proposals to base a wing of F-35 fighters in Boise. One of the concerns raised by neighbors is that Boise will buy up to dozens — maybe even hundreds — of homes closest to the runways, though airport officials have said they have no such plans.
Buying nearby homes is just one of several options for reducing the impact of aircraft noise on people who live near the airport. Other proposals approved by the Federal Aviation Administration include changes to the city’s building code and a program that would upgrade sound insulation in nearby homes. Wednesday’s open house is a chance for Boise residents to learn more about these measures and tell airport representatives what they think, airport spokesman Sean Briggs said.
Boise Airport open house on noise When: Wednesday, 5-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. Where: Boise River Room, third floor of the Boise Airport. The airport will validate parking.
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For the past 20 years, the Idaho Air National Guard has operated a wing of A-10s on the same Boise Airport runways where commercial flights take off and land. In 2014, the U.S. Air Force announced its intention to ground all A-10 aircraft, including the 21 based in Boise.
Though the grounding of A-10s is neither imminent nor certain, Boise is on the short list of candidate bases for a wing of F-35s, the Air Force’s cutting-edge but glitchy attack plane. Boise’s F-35 candidacy has broad backing from the business community and government representatives, including all four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation, Gov. Butch Otter and Mayor Dave Bieter.
Some neighbors worry that the F-35s, which are much louder than the A-10s but not as loud as the F-4s that preceded the A-10s in Boise, will make life near the airport unbearable.
If the city were to pursue home purchases, Biggs said, it likely would start buying them around 2020. The city couldn’t force people to sell their homes, nor would it condemn them. Instead, both the city and the homeowner would have to agree to the transaction, and the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve it, because it would supply the money.
There’s no estimate for how many homes the city would try to buy, Briggs said. A noise study finalized in August projected that, by 2020, a total of 419 homes will be located within an area surrounding the airport where average noise levels are 65 decibels or higher. The 65-decibel “noise contour” is considered the threshold for acceptable noise levels for homes.
“By no means is the airport going to go and buy 100 homes,” Briggs said.
Wednesday’s event will have a true open house format, Briggs said. The airport will have no speakers or presenters. Instead, people can review proposals for noise mitigation, he said. The open house is also a good chance for people to find out if they live inside the 65-decibel noise contour or if their homes have navigation easements, which restrict property owners’ rights relative to the airport.