Airport neighbors to appeal for noise relief

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Public Safety & Health Committee on Monday, Aug. 8, will invite citizens’ feedback on the town’s noise ordinance, including from some Middlebury State Airport neighbors who are seeking ways to lessen the impacts of what they believe will soon be an expanded use of the local airport.
Laura Asermily, chairwoman of the Public Safety & Health Committee, said the purpose of the noise ordinance is to “protect the comfort, quiet, repose, health, peace or safety of others in the immediate area of a noise disturbance.” The ordinance, she added, also defines certain specific activities that constitute unreasonable, unnecessary, or excessive noise — such as electronic noise, construction noise, trash collection. The ordinance sets about time parameters where this noise is prohibited.
Some airport neighbors reached out to Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley in May asking if they could have their noise concerns addressed through the noise ordinance. The Vermont Agency of Transportation is planning to lengthen the Middlebury Airport runway by 700 feet, to a total of 3,200 feet, and also widen it from the current 50 feet, to 60 feet. Neighbors are concerned that project, slated for next year, could bring louder aircraft to the area and make the facility busier.
“(The neighbors) wanted to know if the noise ordinance, as it states in the preamble, could be applied to suppress noise emanating from aviation operations,” Hanley said. So the Public Safety & Health Committee agreed to hear the residents’ concerns and suggestions at the Aug. 8 meeting, to begin at 4 p.m. in the Middlebury Police Department conference room.
“The issue now is, do federal and state regulations pre-empt a local ordinance, and if so should the ordinance be amended to exempt activities that are allowed and controlled by federal and state authority?” Hanley explained. “The noise ordinance enactment was driven, back in the early 1990s, by unmitigated student social activity noise emanating from campus and off-campus life. It was enlarged to restrict other specific activities that impact quality of life. With that in mind, the airport neighbors want to know if the town can likewise control noise from aviation operations.”
Anyone with questions about the upcoming meeting can send them to Asermily at [email protected].
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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