NewsLocal News


Superior, Boulder County sue Jefferson County over noise, lead concerns at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport

The lawsuit demands an end to “touch and go” training flights, which are blamed for excessive noise and lead risk, but seeks no money.
Planes at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport
Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 15:06:46-04

SUPERIOR, Colo. — Boulder County and the Town of Superior have filed a lawsuit against neighboring Jefferson County over operations at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (RMMA).

RMMA, owned by Jefferson County, has been the subject of concern from many residents for years due to its increasing traffic and noise along with its supply of leaded aviation gasoline. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, demands an end to “touch and go” training flights in which training pilots repeatedly take off from the airport and circle nearby without stopping. The technique is blamed for excessive noise and lead risk.

No money is being sought in the lawsuit.

A Community Noise Roundtable was convened in 2021 to hear resident concerns and search for solutions, and RMMA pledged last year to expedite its transition from leaded fuel. However, Superior Mayor Mark Lacis told Denver7 the decision to file the lawsuit came after these collaborative pursuits with Jefferson County failed to provide the results his residents are pleading for.

“Since 2019, there’s been an increase of about 50 percent in terms of total operations They had 280,000 operations in 2023, and a large majority of those operations are these training operations where they’re just flying these touch-and-go patterns over Superior,” Lacis said. “That needs to stop. It’s a public nuisance. It’s impacting the ability for residents to sleep, to work, to open their windows, to just enjoy the quiet of their homes without disturbance. So that led us to the decision, ultimately, that we need to seek redress through the courts.”

A spokesperson for Jefferson County told Denver7 in a statement that because RMMA is federally funded, it is subject to federal laws that govern issues such as fuel use and noise allowed.

“It is not a legal option for the airport to mandate a reduction in those operations,” said spokesperson Cassie Pearce in a statement. “The County believes that the Community Noise Roundtable is a valuable venue for these discussions and will continue to work with community members to address their concerns where viable and legal options exist.”

Lacis argued this response shows that Jefferson County is “not taking ownership of the problem.” The fact that an answer has not been found through the Community Noise Roundtable in the past three years shows that a new approach is needed, the mayor said.

“Jefferson County can’t just export the negative consequences at the airport,” Lacis said. “They can’t dump their pollution, noise, lead, otherwise, on a neighborhood without consequences. They have to abate a public nuisance. So that’s what we’re asking for.

“You know, we understand that airports are important. It’s important to have pilots. And you know, we’re not saying that this airport needs to close or they can’t fly out of this airport. We’re just saying that this unique, particular operation that causes a public nuisance shouldn’t be occurring here.”

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.