Airmen complain of noise, lack of sleep from Langley Family Housing construction

Posted at 8:13 PM, Nov 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-20 20:13:22-05

The clanging of the dump truck rings out across the housing complex followed by the buzzing of a bulldozer.

Oh, and don't forget the backhoe.

These are all noises military families in Bethel Manor Housing deal with day in and day out.

“I’m so frustrated, angry, and irritable that I can’t sleep,” said Staff Sergeant Marie Pope.

“In a lot of ways, it’s turned into a nightmare,” said Brandilynn Kelley.

These Air Force families say their nightmare is a product of the decisions made by Hunt Companies, who operates military housing on Langley Air Force Base.

The company started demolition of older housing around Bethel Manor earlier this year, leaving about two dozen families sandwiched in the middle.

“It’s just like we are ignored, like these homes aren’t here,” said Kelley.

“It’s been lots of fun for me, especially working nights, said Staff Sergeant Pope,

She is an Air Force meteorologist, and can only sleep during the day, but that's hard to do with backhoes and bulldozers 20 yards from her bedroom window.

“I have blackout blinds, I have a noise machine, and I have earplugs,” said Pope. “I even try sleeping in all my kids’ beds. I feel like Goldilocks.”

Air Force intelligence, base firefighters, and flight crews all call the Bethel Manor neighborhood home.

Many of them also work nights, like Brandilynn Kelley's husband.

“They are vital to the Langley and Fort Eustis mission, and they are going without sleep,” said Kelley.

There are also the other, less desirable effects from construction.

“We have mice now.  After they tore all this up, all the mice and roaches have moved into our houses,” said Kelley.

“After they bulldozed a building across the street, they discovered they have sewage issues, so now we have a generator and a portable sump pump in front of my house,” said Pope. “It makes my house shake on both sides. I feel like I’m living in a Cracker Jack box.”

“We’ve asked to be moved, and we've asked for a rent reduction,” said Kelley.

“Our housing specialist in charge of our street has come over, and I’ve shown her what I’m dealing with when I’m trying to sleep in the morning, and she says, ‘That’s horrible, but there is nothing I can do for you,”’ said Pope.

Now these fed-up families want Hunt Companies to take action and move them, so life can be just a bit more bearable.

“I understand it’s about profit, but we have to live here,” said Kelley.

“They didn’t want to think through how it would affect their residents. The bottom line is they just want the money,” said Pope.

When NewsChannel 3 went to Hunt about these construction complaints, they sent us this statement:

“At Hunt, we are continually concerned about the welfare and well being of our military service members and their families. In relation to the issues that you’ve raised, there is currently demolition work being conducted to tear down a facility unrelated to the housing project, but in close proximity to the housing area.  That demolition work will be complete next week.

Hunt is the process of building 374 new homes for military families.  We are constructing these homes in accordance with the guidelines established by the Air Force and associated regulations.  As such, the work takes place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Due to both ongoing construction projects, we have worked closely with the surrounding families to ensure as little disruption as possible.  In the instance of the service member who works nights and lives close to the construction area, we have offered to make accommodations for them and are working with them directly.   We communicate the construction progress regularly and are available to meet with any residents who are unduly affected or have concerns.”

We asked Hunt what they meant when they said ”making accommodations,” because the Popes and the Kelleys say they have not been offered any alternate accommodations by the company's employees.

Hunt tells us, "We only know of one resident who had concerns and voiced those directly to us.   We work very hard to retain our residents and create a happy, safe and livable environment for them.   We would have offered to move the resident to another unit, but unfortunately we simply don’t currently have any available units.   We did, therefore, make some other concessions in order to accommodate them.   But those were not acceptable.   I will note for you that the construction plans were well known to residents in advance of them moving into the units.  Again, I would encourage any resident who has concerns to contact us directly and we will do everything we can to assist."