Mayor Miro Weinberger will not give his blessing to a Burlington City Council resolution asking the feds for an alternative plane to the F-35 fighter jets. He announced Wednesday in a press release that he will neither sign nor veto the letter, which will be sent to the U.S. Air Force on April 16 without his support.
It is the first time in Weinberger's six-year tenure as mayor that he has not signed a council resolution, according to the release. Instead, he sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson explaining his decision and voicing his continued support for the jets.
The council considered the resolution after 55 percent of Burlingtonians, on an advisory Town Meeting Day ballot question, voted to halt the basing of the F-35s and request a new mission for the Vermont Air National Guard at Burlington International Airport. The F-35s are currently scheduled to arrive in 2019.
Weinberger has, from the beginning, voiced approval for the jets — and said Wednesday that his opinion has not changed. Since Town Meeting Day, he said he has met with the Vermont Air National Guard and federal officials to ask questions raised by the media and F-35 opponents.
Weinberger said federal officials had assuaged his concerns around noise, safety, and the demolition of homes in South Burlington. He also warned that a change of plans would have a negative economic impact on Burlington and the surrounding area.
"We would face a period of great uncertainty in the wake of a decision by the Air Force to reopen the F-35 basing selection process," he wrote. "While there are differences, Burlingtonians need only look across the lake at Plattsburgh to see a community that has struggled for decades in the wake of an adverse Air Force basing decision."