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Boulder County District Court judge opens door for noise lawsuits against Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport

Planes at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport
Posted at 5:07 PM, May 13, 2022

SUPERIOR, Colo. — A Boulder County District Court Judge has paved the way for homeowners near Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport to sue over noise violations, court documents obtained by Denver7 show.

The ruling stems from a court case that began in late 2021. However, homeowners in the Rock Creek area of Superior were just alerted to the ruling this week by the Rock Creek Home Owners Association.

Residents who spoke to Denver7 pointed to this week’s plane crash as just the latest example of their concerns, which they say span years as traffic at the airport has increased. In particular, more frequent pilot training flights have increased the level and frequency of noise. A study by the Rock Creek HOA board found “noise limits from the airport were ten times the maximum noise levels represented by the airport,” according to a letter sent to homeowners in the neighborhood.

“It is literally loud enough to impact the ability to have a conversation in my house,” said Rachel Stanton, who lives in the Rock Creek neighborhood. “And they fly over, you know, it can be every few minutes.”

Stanton and her family moved to the neighborhood five years ago. She says she was well aware that a nearby airport would mean aviation noise, but she could never have been prepared for the amount her family has since endured.

“And it’s not that anyone wants to totally eliminate all of that, but we want to see more controls and limitations on the amount of traffic that comes over this neighborhood,” she explained. “The bigger issue is, I’m concerned about the safety risk of having airplanes, small planes — by people in training — coming over our homes and businesses.”

Stanton says the amount of noise and disruption has her family second-guessing the home they chose, and they are not alone. Mark Ricketson reached out to Denver7, saying he and his wife left their home of 20 years in Boulder due to immense air traffic.

“I just said, you know, there’s only one thing we can do — and that’s to change our location,” Ricketson explained, saying several complaints to local and agency leaders fell on deaf ears. “I would go for a walk, and there would be just a constant drone of aircraft over your head.”

RMMA has been in operation since 1960, but residents of the area say the noise pollution has gotten substantially worse in the last few years, specifically. A nationwide shortage of pilots has added extra pressure to train more pilots quickly, but this training has led to a huge increase in air traffic. This has particularly been the case around neighborhoods, residents say.

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A screenshot from Rachel Stanton shows examples of flight paths the morning of May 13, 2022

“If it was occasional, not a problem,” Stanton said. “When it’s every five minutes, that becomes disruptive.”

Both Jefferson County and the Rock Creek Masters HOA have appealed the recent district court ruling, according to the HOA. The HOA is asking the judge to expand the ruling to include more homes in the area — thus invalidating signed easements and allowing for additional lawsuits.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Jefferson County said, "In litigation brought by the Rock Creek Homeowners Association against Jefferson County, a trial court judge found that a graphic representation of noise contours in the airport’s 2000 Master Plan led to termination of certain easements. The County has appealed that holding, as such easements serve the important purpose of notifying homeowners of the impacts of the airport. The judge did not make any findings regarding actual noise levels at the airport, either in the past or currently. The County is unaware of any valid, scientific noise study establishing increased noise levels at the airport in recent years."

Denver7 reached out to the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport but did not hear back.