Update: April 19, 2013
The Charlottesville City Council is calling on the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Authority Board to consider halting blasting associated with the runway project.
Mayor Satyendra Huja sent a letter to William Kehoe, chair of the Airport Authority, following complaints from residents of the Walnut Hill neighborhood. They claim the blasting has damaged their homes.
The City Council wants the airport to stop the blasting until damage assessments can be done on those homes to determine if the damage is the result of the blasting.
April 3, 2013
A number of homes in one Albemarle County neighborhood have cracks and other problems that have been appearing over the past few months, and homeowners are blaming the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
Homeowners in the Walnut Hill neighborhood blame the damage on the dynamite blasting at the airport as part of the runway expansion project. They sent a letter to a number of elected officials on Wednesday asking for their help in putting a stop to the blasting.
"What's scary is what we can't see, which is the potential for unseen damages to the houses, but also to the environment below the ground because there's been no assessment done by the airport," said Rit Venerus, a homeowner in Walnut Hill and a member of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Commission.
As many as 16 homes in the neighborhood have wall cracks, plumbing problems or foundation issues. Others have dried-up wells or failed septic systems.
"We're calling for an immediate cessation of the blasting," homeowner Jonathan Boersma said.
CHO officials say the runway expansion project is about 81 percent complete, and most blasting will end in July. A press release issued in response to a request for comment said "limited" blasting will continue through 2014.
"My son looked at me and said, 'Why is our house falling apart?' That's pretty hard to hear from your child," Venerus said.
"We all knew we were moving into a location that had an airport. What we didn't know was they were going to be dynamiting," homeowner Steve DeJong said. "That's a whole different ballgame from an airplane going in and out."
While the homeowners are convinced of the source of damage to their homes, no one can directly attribute it to the blasting. However, no one can say otherwise, either.
"It feels like things are falling apart," Venerus said. "It does feel like the damages we can see are visible enough that it makes you scared about what's happening to what you can't see."
So the homeowners request the blasting stop until they get to the root of the damage.
The airport said in the release that homeowners with concerns of damage should contact the prime contractor, Sargent Corporation, and their blasting subcontractor, Maine Drilling & Blasting, to file a claim. Homeowners said they've tried, and the contractor hasn't been receptive.