Mayor’s Office

Statement from City Attorney Eileen Blackwood in Response to Attorneys Jim Dumont's and James Marc Leas' Announcement of Plans to Launch F-35 Petition Drive


March 4, 2013
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

Statement from City Attorney Eileen Blackwood in Response to Attorneys Jim Dumont’s and James Marc Leas’ Announcement of Plans to Launch F-35 Petition Drive*

“The claim by Mr. Dumont and Mr. Leas that a Burlington vote could block the basing of the F-35 at Burlington International Airport is not correct.  The state statute they cite, 5 VSA §606, does not apply to Burlington’s Airport because Burlington’s City Charter trumps the general state law on this issue.  In Burlington, unlike other Vermont towns, per the City Charter the Mayor proposes and the City Council approves Burlington’s budget.  Many of the smaller towns in Vermont follow the general state law, 17 VSA §2664, that requires a vote to approve their annual budgets.  Section 606 appears to make sense in light of that requirement; however, based on its legislatively-approved City Charter, Burlington operates differently and vests that authority in the City Council.”

*Please scroll down below the signature line to read Attorneys Dumont’s and Leas’ announcement.


# # #



Mike Kanarick
Assistant to the Mayor
Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger
City Hall | 149 Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401
802.865.7275 (desk)
802.735.7962 (cell)


For Immediate Release

For further information contact:
Jim Dumont 802 453-7011(o) 802 349-7342(c)
James Marc Leas 802 864-1575

Town Meeting Day in Burlington
Launching--for next year's town meeting--a ballot item petition to stop the F-35!

Outside Mater Christi School (Ward 1 polling location)
100 Mansfield Ave, Burlington
Town Meeting Day
Tuesday March 5
9:00 am

Launching the petition drive and collecting the first signatures on the petition (see below for text of resolution)
News conference 9:00 to 9:30am to launch the petition drive
Speakers include Attorney Jim Dumont and Burlington, Winooski, South Burlington, and Williston neighbors in the zone the Air Force says will be rendered "unsuitable for residential use"

We have nearly 10 months to collect the signatures for next year's town meeting. Most signature gathering will be delayed until after the Air Force decision and then only if the Air Force selects Burlington. But launching now is important because the petition and the resolution can influence the Air Force not to select Burlington.

The voters of Burlington do have the power to stop the Pentagon plan to base the F-35 at the airport!
This is because Vermont law provides that the people must vote on airport expenditures (see text of the law below).
If approved by the voters the resolution provided in the petition effectively prevents the basing of the F-35 at the Burlington airport.
We can win this vote.

Here is why this strategy can work
The F-35 issue is not a matter of federal preemption--it is a simple landlord/tenant issue--the City of Burlington is the landlord of the airport and the Air Guard is the tenant

Any landlord can tell her tenant not to make noise!

If the landlord permits her tenant to make so much noise that other homes are rendered "unsuitable for residential use" the landlord can be held liable for the damages.

In 2005 62.4% of the voters in Burlington voted to "support our soldiers in Iraq, and the best way to support them is to bring them home now and take good care of them when they get home." The resolution won in all 7 wards of the city. It won at a time when a city sponsored resolution regarding the YMCA was voted down.  Merely launching this petition will put the decision makers in the Air Force on notice that their decision as to basing is subject to review by the people of Burlington. Along with public events and legal initiatives--all based on facts provided by the Air Force itself in its draft Environmental Impact Statement--launching the resolution before the Air Force makes its decision may help the decision makers in the Air Force to decide not to choose Burlington.

5 VSA § 606. Vote; income; issuance of notes or bonds

An airport or landing field shall not be established or constructed, or equipped, maintained, or improved from time to time by a municipality, acting either singly or jointly with one or more other municipalities, unless and until a proposition therefor fixing the maximum amount which may be expended thereunder by such municipality for such establishment, construction, equipment, or improvement has been submitted to an annual or special meeting of the municipality and adopted by a majority vote of the qualified voters voting thereon.

Text of the resolution:

Petition for annual or special meeting to stop basing of F-35 at Burlington International Airport

“Shall the voters of the City of Burlington approve a resolution to stop the basing of the F-35 at Burlington International Airport in view of the following facts:

∙    The F-35 is more than 4 times louder than the F-16. F-16 noise has already caused blocks of abandoned and demolished homes in South Burlington--at a cost of $39 million. The F-35 will put 3000 more homes in the noise zone the Air Force says is “incompatible with residential use.”

∙    Burlington owns the airport and has authority to prevent such damaging actions by its military tenants. Burlington voters have authority under Vermont law to set the airport budget to ensure that no more homes need be demolished.

Therefore, pursuant to Vermont statutory authority 5 VSA 606:

So as to prevent the basing of the F-35 at the airport, and to support the Vermont Air Guard’s own stated mission, “to protect life and property” and “add value to our communities,” no more than one dollar may be spent for construction, equipment and improvement of Burlington International Airport so long as F-35 jets are regularly based at this airport.”

Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office