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Supporters for F-35 jets propose solutions to mitigate noise concerns

MADISON (WKOW) — Some Madison officials said they have solutions to the community’s concerns over F-35 fighter jets making too much noise.

Madison’s Wisconsin Air National Guard is close to bringing the jets to the area as they compete with three other potential sites. 

Zach Brandon, the president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, said residents can apply for federal assistance to reduce noise levels such as sound insulation for homes. 

“If you do have an incompatibility, what we’ve seen around the county are people getting new windows, people install better insulation and that money will come from the FAA,” said Brandon.

A few weeks ago an environmental impact statement from the Air National Guard showed 272 households would hear noises as loud as a vacuum cleaner three feet away and homes could potentially be incompatible for residential use.

Even if some residents receive financial assistance, Dane County Board of Supervisor member Yogesh Chawla said it won’t be enough.

“When you’re applying for federal relief, it sometimes gets very tricky,” said Chawla, District 6. “I think the remediation should be something that is brought to the people directly before the planes are brought.”

Chawla represents homeowners in the “incompatible” zone. He also fears the plan would disproportionately affect low income and minority communities.

“If we’re eliminating a large swath of land where people are living and potentially could be leaving, we have to ask ourselves, is that the right decision for our community to make?”

Chris Arnez, who’s a retired F-16 pilot, said the jets can also use alternative paths to reduce the noise.

“There are also a lot of noise abatement practices that we can use in-flight so we can vary our flight path. We can take off to the North versus the South,” said Arnez.

Arnez emphasized the goal is not to have people leave their homes but instead find a solution for them to stay.

“The expectation is not that people will move. It’s that we will do everything we can in our power to make it compatible,” said Arnez. 

Chawla said he hopes a plan is in place to help residents before the jets arrive.

“I would like to see those concerns addressed up front instead of.. if there are ways to mitigate those concerns,” he said. “That should be part of the plan before the project gets underway.”

A public hearing on the F-35’s will be held on September 12th at the Alliant Energy Center beginning at 5 p.m.

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Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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