Mile-Hi Lease Second Reading and Final Council Vote on March 15
After the last council meeting, we met with several council members to discuss concerns with the proposed lease. Based on those discussions, I believe council will move forward with approving the lease. There was a consensus that this negotiated lease will somewhat reign in Mile-Hi's access to airport property, and the idea of denying the lease and reverting to the old one did not seem favorable to the council members we spoke with.
However, on the bright side, there was strong support for addressing the noise problem and accepting Congressman Polis' offer to negotiate an agreement between Longmont and the FAA for an advisory opinion aimed at adopting noise regulations.
Please join us at the March 15 council meeting. Also, please send an email to council urging them to move forward with adopting noise regulations - see Talking points below.
Many thanks to Jeff Lewis for his insightful article on Aviation Impact Reform regarding the Mile-Hi proposed lease.
Aviation Impact Reform: Longmont CO second reading and final council vote on mile-hi skydiving lease
Talking Points - Urge council to adopt noise regulations
You can review the proposed lease here
, and consider these talking points to include in your remarks. We have adjusted the main points based on our recent conversations with council. You can certainly ask them to deny the lease and requiring Mile-Hi to make back payments. However, our focus below is on addressing the noise.
Point #1: Require back payments for the annual drop zone permit
The Longmont Municipal Code 4.64.040 was adopted in 2007 and requires a $7,500 annual permit for use of airport property as a drop zone. According to updated records provided by the clerk's office, Mile-Hi has paid the annual permit fee for 2015 and 2016. At a minimum, Mile-Hi has not paid the fee for 7 years (2007 - 2014), which comes to $52,500 in unpaid fees. Mile-Hi should be required to pay these fees. Additionally, Mile-Hi did not pay on the original lease since 2007 and they should be required to pay those lease fees, which would total more than $330,000.
Point #2: Urge council to accept Congressman Polis' invitation to facilitate negotiations with the FAA
The initial contact between Polis' staff and Longmont officials has been made. Several council members have expressed interest in moving forward. Urge them to make a formal statement to acknowledge the noise problem and accept the invitation from Congressman Polis.
Point #3: Remind council that the city of Longmont, as the airport proprietor, has the authority to adopt noise regulations at the airport
During aviation attorney John Putnam's presentation last year (Extent of City Power to Control Airport Noise at time 13:47)
, Mr. Putnam explains Grant Assurance 22a (economic discrimination) and summarizes as follows: "you need to make the airport stay open and you need to make sure it's providing reasonable access. ... It does acknowledge that airports can make reasonable rules governing the access to that airport. However, the key piece is that it has to be reasonable. The other issue is that it has to be a rule that avoids unjust discrimination.... The airports have power, they don't have unlimited power."
We realize that the U.S. airspace is under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government. The proprietor has the authority to regulate noise in ways that do not interfere with regulating airspace.
There is plenty of evidence and discussion material about the proprietor's authority in the opening brief. Also, the
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5020
provides a section titled Airport Proprietor Options from pages 27 to 32.
1. Limit access to the drop zone (on airport property).
This restriction does not prevent Mile-Hi from using the runway, or flying planes in any way. It limits their hours to use the airport for landing parachutes. The proposed restriction is 8 hours per weekend, and regular business hours during the week. This provision is the most effective way to reduce the noise, and it is a land use issues that complies with the grant assurances.
2. Limit hours of operation or number of operations (per time period)
3. Adopt landing fees to encourage quieter aircraft.
The Santa Monica airport provides an example to follow.
Santa Monica Airport landing fee program
4. Ban twin otters from service based on cumulative noise impacts.
Point #4: Clearly mark the drop zone boundaries
The drop zone boundaries have so far been unclear, and we received confirmation that the south parcel was being used as a drop zone. Urge council to designate a drop zone with clear markings, and provide monitoring and penalties for unauthorized landings outside those boundaries.
The Opening Brief in the judicial appeal (CQS, Kimberly Gibbs, et. al vs. Mile-Hi Skydiving)
was filed on March 9. We are extremely pleased with the brief and I encourage you to review it. Many thanks to all who made this possible with generous financial contributions to our legal fund - we could not have done this without your support.
Next Steps - The defense will file their Response, then we will file a Reply. Afterward (this summer), we will request oral arguments in front of the three-judge appellate panel. They can approve or deny our request. We expect a final decision from the court later this fall.
We are continuing to work with Congressman Polis to draft legislation.
Chairman and Founder, Citizens For Quiet Skies
Boulder County, Colorado