Residents Sue Denver Airport and Adams County Over Noise

JUNE 7, 1997

The Denver Post (Denver & The West; page B-01) reports that twenty-two residents living near the Denver International Airport have filed suit in Adams County District Court suing the city of Denver and Adams County for allowing what they claim is excessive noise. The residents all live 2 to 6 miles north of the airport's north-south runways in the rural subdivisions of Van Aire, Vantage Estates, and Lake Estates.

The lawsuits allege that the city of Denver, as the owner and operator of the airport, "caused the flight of aircraft over the plaintiffs' property, thereby creating high levels of noise, pollution, and vibrations on plaintiffs' property."

According to the article, Vantage Estates resident Jerri James said, "We have too much noise and too many direct fights over the top of our homes. They devalued our homes and the enjoyment of our homes." Tim Morgan, a resident of Van Aire, said, "Right now, especially on hot days, you can't even have a conversation when a 727 flies barely 1,000 above us. Everything stops when that happens."

The article reports that both the city of Denver and Adams County were named as co-defendants in the lawsuits because the two governments originally both had a noise abatement agreement in 1988. However, Adams County Commissioner Marty Flaum has been an outspoken critic of the way Denver has handled noise abatement for the Adams County residents, the article says. Flaum said Friday that in 90 to 120 days, the county will be ready to legally become a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Denver over the noise abatement issue.

"The people know we are helping them," Flaum said. "Adams County is not in violation of that agreement. Denver is in violation of the agreement. We are party to the contract in that we agreed to do the land deal with Denver. That's it." Flaum added that he understands the frustration of the residents, and he sees no better remedy for the situation than the airport buying out the residents' properties.

The article goes on to say that the 1988 noise abatement agreement between the city and the county stipulated that the city would pay a $500,000 fine for each noise violation that exceeds the imposed limit by 2 decibels. The abatement agreement is an attempt to eliminate the noisier and older "Stage 2" aircraft that are still being used by the airlines, particularly the discount carriers. The major carriers are converting to the newer and quieter "Stage 3" jets, the article reports.