Guest Opinions

Fearing noise impacts, residents demand better representation

Monty Mericle
Monty Mericle

It was made clear again Nov. 16 to the 150 residents attending the Boise Airport Master Planning meeting that the Boise Airport and Boise City officials have no intention of addressing the noise impacts of the expanding airport operations. The recently completed FAA sponsored Noise Study projects the “Not Suitable for Residential Use” zone on private property surrounding the airport will expand from the current 105 homes to 419 homes if F-15 aircraft replace the current A-10 aircraft, and over 1,100 homes if the city is successful in attracting F-35 aircraft to Gowen Field.

Despite being assured at the completion of the Noise Study that the proper place to develop a noise mitigation plan and schedule would be the upcoming master planning process, Airport Manager Rebecca Huff stated at the meeting that the Master Plan is not the place to address noise. She said that noise was already addressed in the recently completed Noise Study. This statement was reiterated by the Airport Chief Information officer, Shaun Briggs, in an on camera interview. How can any rational person believe that the off-airport impacts identified in the Noise Study should not be considered in the 20 year master plan? We were also assured that affected residents would have representation in the master planning process. Now we learn that neither of these statements is true. This misinformation and constantly changing story line is typical of the way in which the Airport and City are handling the noise expansion issue.

The other point that became evident at the meeting is that the true purpose of the Master Planning process is to develop a plan by businesses, politicians, and government agencies that allows airport business growth unencumbered by issues such as off-airport noise. The make-up of the actual Master Planning Technical Committee includes 10 groups that are either businesses that profit from the airport or government agencies that support the airport. There is not a single entity that represents those off-airport private citizens who will suffer the consequences of an expanding airport noise footprint. The only planned interaction with those surrounding the airport are a few Homeowner Association meetings towards the end of the planning process where the conclusions of the study and the resulting plan will be explained to the affected residents. The decisions will be made by only businessmen, and government officials, and politicians.

How is it possible that the projected impact of airport expansion onto private property of over 1,000 residents can occur without any responsibility to mitigate or compensate those affected? What happened to the sanctity of private property and the 4th amendment prohibition of government seizure of private property without just compensation?

What the residents of the homes surrounding the airport expect and demand is representation of our interests on the technical committee. Community involvement is encouraged in the Code of Federal Regulations governing the master planning process. The Boise Airport and City officials should not be allowed to ignore their citizens as they are now doing.

Monty Mericle is an Idaho native who retired from Idaho Power after 40 years and lives in Boise. He sponsored the website “SaveOurValleyNow” from 2009 through 2012 which was dedicated to providing balanced information on the consequences of the Boise City campaign to bring F-35 jet aircraft to the Boise Airport.