Adams County files lawsuit over DIA noise pollution

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DENVER — While tens of thousands of passengers will fly in and out of Denver International Airport after the Fourth of July, residents on the ground are growing frustrated and wearisome of the noise pollution the airplanes create in their neighborhoods.

This week, Adams County filed a lawsuit claiming that the airport is using outdated equipment to track noise pollution.

Adams County almost completely encircles DIA, which sits in Denver County. 

The county gave more than 50 square miles of land to the airport in 1988 under the agreement that DIA would track and pay for its noise pollution.

"It’s important to remember that Denver got the airport that they wanted from Adams County voters because we approved the annexation of that land,” said Jim Siedlecki, director of communications for Adams County. “What we got was the noise associated with all of the airplanes flying over our municipalities."

For context, in the 23 years since DIA opened its doors, it has paid Adams County almost $40 million for going above the noise threshold, but the county said that money was based on bogus data.

“Our lawsuit contends that the city of Denver is not using the noise monitoring system that is outlined in the original agreement,” Siedlecki said.

DIA spokeswoman Stacey Stegman told The Denver Post that the airport has “diligently monitored noise in Adams County since the airport opened.”

She lambasted the lawsuit for making numerous unfounded allegations that she said are based on unproven and imprecise noise collection and measurement methods, according to The Post.

Stegman said Adams County filed the lawsuit to get more money.

Many residents living near the airport said they are sick of the noise from the aircrafts landing and taking off.

Travis Smith of Thornton has lived nearby for 10 years and said he’s learned to tolerate the noise.

"I have had to wait until the plane passed before I could continue what I was doing,” he said.

That goes for his work, too. He owns a recording studio and the noise can ruin a day’s work. It’s bled into his recordings before, he said.

Other neighbors said the noise is just a part of living in the area and that they understand DIA’s importance to the Colorado economy. They’ve learned how to ignore it.

DIA has a hotline for those who want to file noise complaints. It was used often last year — about 3,500 times. One person is responsible for 1,700 of those complaints. The total complaints in 2017 decreased 25 percent from the previous year.

DIA and Adams County have been discussing the noise monitoring system for months, but neither side has budged much. With a lawsuit filed, the conversation may soon head to the courtroom.  

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