Tucson residents file lawsuit against Davis-Monthan

Published: Jan. 26, 2016 at 10:12 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Three residents who live in midtown Tucson in the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base flight path have filed a suit against the U.S. Air Force.

The suit, filed by the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest on behalf of Gary Hunter, Anita Scales and Rita Orneles, states the Air Force did not follow required federal protocols in preparing an environmental assessment on the impact its new training schedule would have on neighborhoods in the flight path.

Under the plan approved last May, the Air Force will increase the number of flights, or sorties, over Tucson, two or threefold, up to 2,326 from the present 800 or so.

The plans call for training flights, which may include F-15's, F-22's and F-18's.

The neighbors are also concerned it may pave the way for the loudest of all the jets in the Air Force arsenal, the F-35.

"We're not asking the Air Force to reduce the number of flights," Hunter said. "We want only that they take a new evaluation of the environmental impacts."

The residents said, and the Air Force disputes that if proper procedures were followed, the Air Force would know the aircraft would have an indisputable impact on their lifestyle.

The lawsuit states the plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act. The suit accuses the Air Force of flawed and incomplete noise analysis, its failure to include an analysis of health impacts, inadequate safety analysis and an inadequate process for public involvement.

"It's something they are reluctant to talk about," Scales said. "I understand that."

According to the Associated Press, base officials declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday. She said they have talked about solutions in the past, but to no avail.

"We're not being listened to and when you get tired of that, you file a lawsuit," she said. "That gets people's attention."

Both Scales and Hunter said the intent is not to close Davis-Monthan down, but to seek solutions from "intelligent people."

"A lot of neighborhoods, a lot of people who have been here for years and years, more collateral damage," Scales said.

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