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Colorado Town, County File Lawsuit Seeking End to Rocky Mountain Airport Noise Pollution

— March 13, 2024

The mayor of Superior, one of the two plaintiffs named in the complaint, says that residents have complained for years of unbearable noise pollution–only to have their concerns “mocked” and dismissed by the airport’s administrators.

A Colorado town and county have filed a lawsuit against Jefferson County, claiming that its management of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport has created a “public nuisance” through unmitigated noise pollution and widespread lead pollution.

According to The Denver Post, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Boulder County and the town of Superior. In the complaint, attorneys for both entities say that Jefferson County has repeatedly failed to take action against “touch-and-go” operations at the airport, during which airplanes momentarily land on the runway before immediately taking back off again.  R

“Due to the configuration of the Airport, most of the touch-and-go operations result in piston-engine aircraft flying at full power, low, slow, and loud directly over the Town and Boulder County,” the county said in a recent press release.

“Due to the constant impacts of these operations, residents cannot open their windows, cannot use outdoor spaces, and cannot sleep without interruption,” the press release said.

The prevalence of such operations has been attributed to flight school planes, which perform touch-and-go maneuvers at maximum power and at a lower altitude than typical takeoffs.

“Jefferson County’s decision to not prohibit touch-and-go operations by piston-engine aircraft that overly Plaintiffs’ residents constitutes [sic] a continuing public nuisance because such operations—which materially increase each year—unreasonably damage the safety, health and welfare of Plaintiffs’ residents,” the lawsuit alleges.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Mark Lacis, the mayor of Superior, said that Jefferson County—rather than taking measures to limit noise pollution—has instead signaled its intent to increase operations at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.

“The problem has grown worse each year, and Jefferson County has indicated it intends to expand the airport,” Lacis said. “We need to stop this problem now before the town and Boulder County residents are irreparably harmed.”

However, Jefferson County suggested that it does not have the authority to order air carriers and flight school operators to change their practices.

“Federally-funded airports such as RMMA are subject to federal laws that require the airport to be available to aircraft operations, including those using leaded fuel, those that make noise, and those engaged in touch-and-go and similar operations,” Jefferson County spokesperson Cassie Pearce said in a statement.

Although the airport authority recently began holding round-table meetings to coordinate solutions to residents’ complaints, Lacis says that his constituents deserve immediate solutions.

“For years, we have asked Superior residents to be patient while we worked with Jefferson County to address the noise and lead pollution coming from RMMA. But we now know that Jefferson County did not take this issue seriously, and went so far as to mock our residents’ legitimate concerns,” Lacis said. “Our residents have had enough.”

“Jefferson county knows there is a problem and they could solve it immediately by eliminating touch-and-go operations by piston-engine aircraft,” he said. “IF Jefferson County won’t abate this nuisance voluntarily, we’ll have the courts require it.”


Boulder County sues neighboring Jefferson County over Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport operations

Boulder County, Superior sue Jefferson County over “touch-and-go” aircraft maneuvers at Rocky Mountain airport

County takes legal action against Rocky Mountain Metro Airport and Jefferson County

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