Saturday, May 21, 2022

Rock Creek Home Owners Association secures a win in lawsuit against Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC)

Airport and home owners association are appealing judge's ruling

Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport could face lawsuits from homeowners after a judge ruled the airport violated avigation easements against Rock Creek Master HOA regarding noise, according to Boulder County Court documents. 

The home owners association, which is located in Boulder County northwest of the airport, has sued the airport and pointed to five easements it claimed the airport violated, but the court only ruled in favor of one.

“The Court finds that the contours of the 1988 Master Plan have been exceeded by the sustained operation of aircraft as shown by the Contours provided in the 2000 Master Plan,” Senior District Court Judge Stephen Enderlin Howard wrote in the bench trial order.

“Basically, the airport — the sound, the operations —  violated (the easement) per the 2000 master plan,” said Diane Marsella of Rock Creek HOA. “They basically said it was 10 times as noisy as what was promised.” 

Both parties filed appeals against the judge’s decision. 

The HOA wants the ruling to include more homes. Marsella said out of the 2,804 homes, about 1,400 to 1,500 do not have aviation easements. 

Whether households will sue, sue separately or sue as a class action lawsuit is unknown, Marsella said. 

Marsella said the court’s decision is based on a noise model from 1998 when flight operations were less than what they are today. A new master plan, which the airport has not undertaken since 2011, would look into the noise levels. 

Master plans are typically updated in 10-year cycles.  Brian Bishop, deputy airport director, said there are plan updates from 2011, 2000, 1988 and 1977.

Bishop said the lawsuit is based off the 1988 master plan because that is the plan the agreements reference. 

Charlene Willey of the Save Our Skies Alliance said the airport is putting off completing a master plan due to the lawsuit. She thinks airport officials want to avoid studying the noise so as not to be found liable. 

However, Bishop said the airport has tried to complete a master plan for the past three years but the Federal Aviation Administration refuses to fund the effort. 

“As soon as we get funding, we'll get a new master plan,” he said. 

Paul Anslow, director of the airport, said they are at the will of the FAA. 

Big changes 

A lot has changed at the airport and the surrounding communities since the last master plan was completed. 

Noise complaints have risen by almost 492% in the past 10 years. According to Anslow, there were 481 noise complaints lodged in 2011 compared to 2,845 in 2021. 

In 2011, the number of distinct households complaining was 84, making the average complaint per household 5.7. By 2021, the number of distinct households was 402, averaging 7.1 complaints per household.

Airport operations also have increased by almost 69%, from 119,353 in 2011 to 201,426 in 2021, according to Julie Story, a spokesperson for Jefferson County, under which the airport operates. That number includes aircraft taking off and landing.

At the same time, the surrounding communities — Arvada, Broomfield, Louisville, Superior and Westminster — have increased their populations by about 13%. The total number of residents of all communities increased from 299,295 in 2010 to 338,806 in 2019. From 1990 to 2019, there has been an overall 68% increase in population, according to Story.

Conflict of interest 

At a May 9 Community Noise Roundtable meeting, Anslow said two noise consultants identified to study the issue at the airport dropped out due to a conflict of interest.  

Westminster, Arvada, Boulder County, the city and county of Broomfield, Jefferson County, the city of Louisville, the Town of Superior and the city of Lafayette all voted to fund the consultants with $7,810 from each municipality. 

One consultant would facilitate meetings at the CNR meetings and the other would provide aviation consulting services. 

However, Bishop said the firm that was hired was supposed to give testimony for Jefferson County regarding noise for the Rock Creek lawsuit, though the testimony was not heard in trial. 

Bishop said the airport is looking to replace them and hire new consultants.


  1. "the airport has tried to complete a master plan for the past three years but the Federal Aviation Administration refuses to fund the effort.

    “As soon as we get funding, we'll get a new master plan,” he said.

    Paul Anslow, director of the airport, said they are at the will of the FAA."

  2. How many homeowners are joining the suit when they knew damn well the airport and area was growing. Answer- all of them. Just ridiculous. Karens

    1. Correct! Same "itching" in Dallas with Love Field and DFW. People moaned about the noise at Love. Then billet DFW in the middle of no where (at the time). Then shortly after, folks with "Infinite Wisdom", says to themselves.. "Hey! Let's build and move close to the new airport!" Then in 2 years start complaining about the noise!

      Sorry for my rant, but I watched this happen in the news as a kid in 1977. I also had a unique position to hear stories from my Grandfather, whose friend was a major contributor with the designed DFW Airport.

    2. This has been a recurring theme in Denver. Back in the day, developers got closer and closer to Stapleton, realtors would show the homes when the flow wasn't over the homes, and homeowners would eventually rally against and sue the airport as if it was somehow responsible for them moving there. JeffCo airport, as KBJC has been known locally since I was a child, predates virtually everyone and everything built in that area. The courts should never agree to even hear noise matters when the noise has not been changed very substantially by something--purely on the basis of precedence in time and housing developments knowing their proximity before they were ever built (or should have known).

  3. correction: billet = built

  4. There's nothing new about people building/buying homes near airports that have been there LONG before the developer/home was built. I used to live near perhaps one of the most hotly contested county controlled airports for decades in the entire nation, Dekalb-Peachtree (PDK) in a northeast greater metro Atlanta area. It was originally a WWII Naval Air Station training field in what was then a remote area outside of metro Atlanta.

    After the war and into the 1950s, the suburban sprawl happened and homes were built all around it with shopping centers and churches soon to follow. Some time in the 1990s, wealthy residents started moving to the area as developers bought out and razed said old 1950s era neighborhoods and built McMansions.

    Guess who started complaining soon after about corporate jet noise? I was a volunteer at the airport during airshows shuttling the public around between tarmac displays across runways. One person in another volunteer colleague's van made a comment she was only there to see for herself why she is going push to shut the airport down. Those people are still at it to this day with regular meetings even as Dekalb County has announced the potential for PDK's flight activity to grow by 1/3 by 2030.

    TL/DR: Don't like noise? Don't build/buy a home near a FREAKING AIRPORT OR HIGHWAY THAT WAS THERE LONG BEFORE YOU WERE.

    1. The airport had agreements with the HOA/houses about operations and noise levels and violated that. Simple as that. And lost in court for that same reason.
      It's not because people moved there or homes were built around the airport. It's because they doubled/tripled their operations and violated an agreement.

    2. One county judge ruled. Don't expect that to be the last word on the issue. The HOA won this one only as one out of five issues.

  5. The airport needs to respect their agreements. The homeowners should publish a rate schedule at about $500 per occurrence allowing a single non compliant aircraft to rent incursion rights into the HOA's air space for a day. Make the schedule $5000 per occurrence when prior arrangements have not been made before the incursion happens.
    I think the pilots' comments here about airport was here before homeowners should be given some nuance. Operations from the originally configured runways should be given some grace by neighbors. Any runways constructed or expanded after the homes were in place, or training facilities not in place when the neighborhoods were built need to show much more deference to the neighbors they planned to fly over from the expanded runways or expanded operations.